Foundation of the First Newcastle High School for Girls, Jesmond Road

Strangely, there are similarities between the foundation of the original Newcastle High School for Girls and second time around.  I was always aware that Church High started off as Newcastle High School when founded in 1885 as a few of the girls and staff were too.  Indeed, as I’ve said before, the School badge never changed.  Many a person will have mused, as I did, over the whereabouts of the ‘C’ in the overlay of letters.  But it definitely did only say NHS.  So, because this blog is now taking the form of a Heritage discourse, I thought it fitting this next post should go back to the very start.

A version of the Church High School badge sporting the overlapping letters NHS from the 1964 School Magazine.

Just as the parent company of the new NHSG (the Girls Day School Trust) is London-based, so too was the organisation Sir Benjamin Chapman Browne wrote to on behalf of a newly-formed Committee in Newcastle wishing to provide an education for their daughters with a Church of England based ethos informing the curriculum.  A leading industrialist within the City and spokesman for British industrial capital at a national level, B C Browne was an important member of Newcastle Corporation and it is most likely owing to his influence that the Tankerville Terrace land was sourced and leased.

Sir Benjamin Chapman Browne, Chairman of Newcastle High School’s Local Committee, served as Lord Mayor of Newcastle 1885-1886.

A High School for girls had already been in existence in Gateshead since 1876.  Originally a small school set up in leased premises (Prospect Cottage, Bensham), it had moved to a permanent site on Windmill Hills in May 1880.  Even then the surveyor had suggested a move to Newcastle, because to get to the High School from the west end of Newcastle and Jesmond, the fast-developing middle-class suburb of Newcastle where those with the money to pay were increasingly setting up home, girls faced a long daily trek over the High Level Bridge – at this time the main bridge over the Tyne – followed by either a steep walk or tram ride up to Windmill Hills.

The cost of a trip by horse tram across the High Level Bridge from Gateshead to Newcastle was one ha’penny (see Thomas Knowles Bell’s ‘A Ha’penny over the High Level’). This early 1900s postcard shows an automated tram on the same route.
Tram entering Gateshead High Street in the early 1900s.
Photographic postcard depicting Windmill Hills as it was in the 1880s. The building with the roof tower in the distance at the end of the terrace is Gateshead High School for Girls.

Fewer and fewer girls were keen to make this journey as Gateshead became more industrialised and the social conditions ‘distressed’.

View of Newcastle upon Tyne & riverside industries from the Windmill Hills (above) and Gateshead East Station (below).

For some, the non-denominational ethos of the G.P.D.S.C. schools was also a bit of a stumbling block.  So when a notice appeared in the national press indication that the Church of England was intending to create its own schools for girls – along similar lines as the Girls Public Day School Company but with a religious tone – the Church Schools’ Company were duly invited to form a school in Newcastle.

Logo & Motto of The Church Schools’ Company: ‘The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom.’

Gateshead’s middle class families would have approached the Girls Public Day School Company in much the same manner ten years previously with Gateshead High School for Girls being the result.

Gateshead High School for Girls at Windmill Hills c 1900 (above) and the logo of the G.P.D.S.C. (below) depicting their motto: ‘Knowledge is Now No More A Fountain Sealed.’  In keeping with the ethos of both companies, the CSCo’s motto is taken from the Bible and G.P.D.S.C.’s motto from Tennyson’s poem, ‘The Princess.’  The logo as depicted here is from the cover of a 1902 Gateshead High School book prize.

However, it very soon became clear that the school they founded was on the wrong side of the river as the business men of Tyneside began to choose to move their families away from the dirt and grime to the modern villas being built in the leafy suburb of Jesmond.

These details from an etching published in The Graphic, 14th September 1889, created to illustrate the meeting of The British Association in Newcastle clearly show the Gateshead High School building next to the disused windmill on Windmill Hill (above) and the industrialised nature of the Gateshead bank of the Tyne in the area of the High Level Bridge (below).

The leafy villa dwellings on Osborne Road, Jesmond c 1900.

Olive Carter’s History of Gateshead High School recognises this when recording the 12 years of the School’s first Headmistress, Miss Cooper: ‘Numbers at Gateshead High School reached their peak in 1885; after that, decline set in, slowly at first then faster ….. Miss Cooper showed her clear-sighted acceptance of facts by suggesting in 1886 that the school should remove to Newcastle, where two-thirds of the pupils came; but the proposal was not welcomed.’ [History of Gateshead High School & Central Newcastle High School, p.7The ethos of the G.P.D.S.C. school may also have affected its ability to keep numbers up, as Carter observes: ‘Certainly the discipline seems to have been fairly severe … There was an inflexible rule of silence everywhere and at all times, except during recreation; so strict was this rule that it occasionally even led to children who got lost in the school building remaining lost because neither they nor any other pupil cared to risk speaking.’ [p.20]

Gateshead High School for Girls, Windmill Hills c 1885.

However by 1889 when a G.P.D.S.C. Preparatory School was finally opened across the river in Devonshire Terrace, Newcastle – intended to act as a ‘feeder’ school for Gateshead High School for girls up to age 10, this was the first attempt to try to address the troublesome issue of falling roll – there was already a High School for Girls in existence in Newcastle, of course.  And not just the usual type of school converted from a residential property either, but an architect designed, state-of-the-art, purpose-built school complete with a fully-equipped Gymnasium and a Science Laboratory.  Not surprisingly, the GHS Preparatory School failed in its primary purpose and ‘numbers continued to drop with increasing rapidity.’  [Carter, p.23]  By the autumn term of 1894, Gateshead’s two schools together contained only 191 pupils, which was when the G.D.S.T. first tried to purchase the Newcastle High School building on Tankerville Terrace.  But, way back then, they were firmly told “No”.  This didn’t deter them though.  As we know, they built a High school two streets away.

G.P.D.S.C.’s High School building in Jesmond opened in 1900.

The Minutes of the Church Schools’ Company relating to the life of Newcastle High School can be viewed via Tyne & Wear Archives at The Discovery Museum [Cat. No: E.NC17/5/1].  The entry for July 1st 1894 [Council Minutes Vol 4 P.140-142] records details of a Special Meeting of the C.S.C. Council held at the Church House, Deans Yard, SW, on Friday 13th July 1894 at 12 noon called by the Company’s Chairman, Rev. Archdeacon Emery to consider a letter affecting the Company’s School at Newcastle.  The discussion on record from that day reads as follows: Proposal of G.P.D.S. Company to establish school: Read a letter dated 25th alt. from Mr J. C. Tarver stating that the Girls Public Day School Company proposed to open a School in Newcastle on Tyne and that the Local Committee of which he was Chairman would be glad to know whether the Church Schools Company would be willing to sell their premises in Tankerville Terrace. Intention of Council of Church Schools Company: Resolved to inform Mr Tarver that the Council had no intention of abandoning their School at Newcastle on Tyne, and that it was hoped that care would be taken to avoid such a position, for the proposed school of the Girls Public Day School Company might create needless rivalry between the two Schools’.

Church Schools’ Company Chairman, Archdeacon William Emery of Ely.

Creating a new school using a successful, pre-existing school as a nucleus is, of course, established practice.  The recent merger between Church High School and Central Newcastle High School will have been broached in this fashion and, way back in 1884, Miss Hewison who ran a successful school for young ladies in Jesmond Road, Newcastle, must have received a very similar letter from The Church Schools’ Company Council.  I would love to know more of Miss Hewison’s school, but the only trace I have found so far are the brief references in the Church School Company Minutes and The Newcastle upon Tyne Church High School Jubilee History.  From the latter, we learn that: ‘Amongst the “first-class” private schools in Newcastle was one in Jesmond Road.  Originally owned by a Mrs Hewison, it had been carried on after her death by her two daughters, one whom had afterwards married, and in 1884 it had a good reputation in the city and appears to have been flourishing.  It was this school that the Church Schools’ Company proposed as the nucleus of their new school and on October 10th, 1884, an agreement for the purchase of the goodwill of the school was drawn up.  The school was to be carried on in the same buildings, numbers 54, 56, 58 and 60 Jesmond Road, and it was arranged that Miss Hewison [presumably the school’s Head Mistress] should stay on as House and Music Mistress and that some other members of the staff should be retained.’ [Jubliee Book: p.15 & 16]

A lady teacher working at her desk at the front of a typical Victorian classroom in a seemingly “first class” private school.

At that time in Newcastle, Jesmond Road would have been a very smart address.  Nowadays, the road has been split into two with the middle section demolished to make way for the motorway ring road.  However, the first church built to serve the needs of the new suburb of Jesmond – Jesmond Parish Church – still sits alongside the road.  Until the erection of St George’s Church at the top of Osborne Road, the incumbent of Jesmond Parish Church was referred to as the Vicar of Jesmond.  There have always been close links between Newcastle High/Church High School and the Vicars of Jesmond which go back to as early as the School’s founding.  In 1882, Rev. Somerset Pennefather was appointed the second Vicar of Jesmond and his wife, Catherine, became a member of the new High School for Girls’ Local Committee (basically, its Governing Body) in 1884.

When the Pennefathers (pictured in the archway) moved on to St Mary Abbott’s, Kensington, they became friends with Princess Louise, who lived at Kensington Palace, leading to an introduction to Queen Victoria in 1897 [Image: The Graphic].
The inaugural Local Committee who brought the new school into being and acted as its guarantors was comprised of twelve people, half of whom were women: in addition to Mrs Pennefather, Mrs Emily Wilberforce (wife of the first Bishop of Newcastle, appointed to the See by Prime Minister William Gladstone), Mrs W D Cruddas (wife of William Donaldson Cruddas, industrialist of Haughton Castle, at this time Director of W G Armstrong & Co and later Tory MP for Newcastle, Chairman of The Daily Journal and High Sheriff of Northumberland), Mrs J Spencer (wife of John Spencer, owner and director of J Spencer & Sons’ Newburn Steelworks, one of the most advanced steel mills in the country which made the steel plate for RMS Mauritania), Mrs W Boyd (wife of William Boyd, a progressive engineer and Managing Director of the Wallsend Slipway and Engineering Co. who became the first Mayor of Wallsend) and Miss Hewison herself, who acted as Local Secretary (whose role it was to communicate with the Church Schools’ Company in London.)  Dr Ernest Wilberforce, the Bishop of Newcastle, also sat on the Local Committee as the School’s Patron, in addition to a further six men representing a cross-section of the most eminent citizens of Newcastle and Northumberland at the time: Councillor B C Browne, engineer and Chairman of R & W Hawthorn, Leslie & Co. who served as Lord Mayor of Newcastle from 1885 – 1887, receiving a knighthood in the latter year); Canon Arthur Thomas Lloyd, the first Vicar of Newcastle and the Bishop’s right-hand-man at St Nicholas’ Cathedral,  who would himself become the third Bishop of Newcastle in 1903; the Archdeacon of Northumberland, George Hans Hamilton, a great advocate of prison reform and previously Archdeacon of Lindisfarne; Councillor Thomas George Gibson, a businessman who served as Sheriff of Newcastle in 1881, Lord Mayor in 1882 and , in partnership, would go on to set up the Newcastle upon Tyne Electrical Supply Company in 1889 and build the Pandon Dene power station;  Mr C B P Bosanquet, JP, of Rock Hall, Alnwick, Vice Chairman of the Alnwick Board of Guardians (who ran the Alnwick Poor Law Union [Workhouse] and a founding member of The Northumberland County History Committee; and Mr E A Hedley, most probably co-owner of colliers Hedley and Bell in 1884 and a descendant of industrial engineer William Hedley of Newburn.  Presumably the majority had a vested interest in the School as parents of daughters.  On the opening of the new school buildings on Tankerville Terrace, Jesmond Parish Church was chosen as the venue for the Thanksgiving service attended by Helen Gladstone.

Photographic postcard showing Jesmond Parish Church as it looked when it could be entered from Jesmond Road.

Jesmond Road was initially created in the mid-1800s to provide access to the City’s main cemetery in Victorian times; designed by John Dobson, it is now known as Jesmond Old Cemetery.   Designed by one of Newcastle’s foremost architects, John Dobson, the old cemetery is the resting place of one of the architects of the Church High building, Thomas Oliver of Oliver & Leeson.  His more famous architect-surveyor father, also called Thomas, is buried there too.

John Dobson’s entrance portico to Jesmond Old Cemetery.

Owing to its link with the new cemetery, the 1884 map of Newcastle shows that Jesmond Road was originally named Cemetery Road.

According to the 1884 map of Newcastle, at the time of NHS’ founding, Jesmond Road was known as Cemetery Road.

Quieter now, the east end of Jesmond Road still stands today, as do all-but-one of the buildings that served as Miss Hewison’s school.

Three of the houses on Jesmond Road (Nos. 54. 56 & 58) which made up Miss Hewison’s School are still there today.

However, at the time Newcastle High School opened its doors in 1885, the fashionable thoroughfare of Jesmond Road would have looked much like it does in these beautiful contemporary postcards.

Fashionable Jesmond Road as it appeared in the early 1900s. By 1904 (above) and 1916 (below) when these postcards were posted, the School had moved to its present site in Tankerville Terrace. However, it would have once been located in the far distance on the right-hand-side of the road.

The new school was only situated in Jesmond Road for five years and, as I am now in the optimum position to really appreciate and understand as I write this at the start of the fifth year of NHSG, that whole period must have been a time of complex transition, change and adjustment.  There will have been excitement. but those years won’t have been easy for the staff (new and old) and Governors.  The present day position is identical: a new school started within the walls of a pre-existing educational establishment; new owners and leaders; independence exchanged for management from London; some staff kept on, some not; new branding and new staff hired; a mix of old girls and new; the building of new premises ‘just-up-the-road’ and then, eventually, the school moved lock-stock-and-barrel.  As I also know, much of the strain of this process will have been shouldered at ground level within the Jesmond Road building and, indeed, for these years references to the School in both the Church Schools’ Company Council and Education Committee are quite brief.  Indeed, other than handwritten minutes in log books and the Company prospectus, the earliest document that seems to exist is a 1902 advertisement for a new Head Mistress once the School was established within the Tankerville Terrace buildings.  There is also a direct parallel with the present NHSG here too, of course.  No doubt navigating such uncommon changes must take its toll on a Head.

Church Schools’ Co. 1902 recruitment advert for Newcastle High School’s third Head Mistress. [Tyne & Wear Archives]
The first ‘transition’ Head of Newcastle High School was Newnham College graduate, Miss Caroline Ackerley, who served for four years in the new premises.  The challenges faced by her replacement, Miss Eva Mary Siddall, were arguably even more demanding.  Girton College educated, Miss Siddall had the unenviable task of fending off a series of threats to the School from GDST: in 1896 when they tried to buy the new Tankerville Terrace building to use as their school; in 1899 when the Gateshead High feeder school was set up in Newcastle; in 1900 when the GPDSC bought land and eventually opened their rival school two streets away; and again in 1901 when they changed its name to “The Girls’ High School, Newcastle upon Tyne”.  Even Central High School’s own historian, Olive Carter, refers to these moves as ‘scarcely tactful of the GPDSC’ and records that ‘a year later it not unnaturally had to revert to the original as a result of objections by the Church Schools Company.  Thus the rivalry that would have been natural between two schools of similar type, housed moreover very near one another, probably owes a good deal of vigour to historical causes.’  Miss Siddall was successful in her task, but it is perhaps no surprise that she gave notice of leaving only a year later in 1902.

Miss Siddall was a lady of great faith. She later trained as a Deaconess and became Head Deaconess of Newcastle.

So what do we learn about the beginnings of Newcastle High School/Church High from copies of Church Schools’ Company Minutes in the Archives once the decision had been taken on May 29th 1884 to establish a school in Newcastle B C Browne’s letter?  The first reference occurs on October 10th 1884, when it was minuted that Miss Hewison’s position had been reviewed and the reorganisation of her school decided upon.  The Council considered creating a new office of Lady Superintendent, a position which had certainly worked well at Queen’s College, London, the very first college to be created for women in England in 1848.  However, it was eventually resolved that ‘the Education Committee shall have full powers to complete the schemes for the reorganisation of Miss Hewison’s School – especially in reference to the arrangements for utilising the services of the existing staff of teachers – and that the connection of Miss Hewison with the school would be sufficiently served by her position as a Mistress of Boarding House and Teacher of Music.’  Plus ca change then.  What the Council were actually ratifying here was even more heavy-handed, however.  The minutes of the Education Committee which sat on the previous day show that in addition to requesting the lease of Miss Hewison’s property for perusal, an amendment had also been made ‘to exclude Miss Hewison from the privilege of teaching either directly or indirectly within 20 miles of Newcastle except in connection with the Church Schools Company.’ A distrustful, draconian measure.

Photographic postcard of one of the Jesmond Road houses as it would have looked at the time. I wish I could say that the lady standing at the gate was Miss Hewison and the brass plaque on the railings displayed the name of the school, but I cannot.

Like Jesmond Road, Queen’s College, Harley Street, was created from adjoining houses on a residential street.  Originally only at No 66 (which became No 45) next door to the Governesses Benevolent Institution at No 47, the School later acquired the lease of the latter.  Today Queen’s College occupies four houses (Nos. 43 – 49) the same number as NHS at Jesmond Road, so girls at both of these pioneering schools would have had to negotiate lot of flights of stairs.  Although we don’t have any photos of Jesmond Road, owing to the similarity of structure, early postcards of Queen’s College, Harley Street, offer us an indication of what it may have looked like.

Miss Camilla Croudacre, Queen’s College Lady Resident, with her staff on the stairs of No 45 Harley Street (above) and girls & staff higher up the same stairs (below).

In preparation for the opening of Newcastle High School for Girls on Jesmond Road, we know from the same meeting that ‘the kind offer of Canon Holland to visit Newcastle and make a selection of such articles of furniture as in his opinion the Council should take over’ was accepted.  It was also agreed that ‘the fees for the ordinary courses of instruction should be £15.15/- for pupils under 12 and £18.18/- for pupils over 12 per annum’ plus ‘an entrance fee £1.1/- for all new pupils joining the school at Xmas and afterwards.’  The Head Mistress’s ‘salary of £180 (one hundred and eighty pounds per annum) together with furnished rooms, and a capitation fee of £1 (one pound) for every pupil after the first 75 and an allowance not exceeding £80 (eighty pounds) for service’ was also confirmed.  Once the School had opened, at a meeting on 23rd November 1885 it was resolved that ‘the proposed institution of a Kindergarten Department at Newcastle School be approved, provided that at least ten applications shall be received’. The Kindergarten instruction fees were set at nine and twelve guineas per annum with an ‘entrance fee of 10/6 in the case of little boys’.  Anyone surprised that NHS catered for boys at its outset will be even more shocked to learn boys were boarding at Church High as late as 1931.

From 1931, Mrs Horsley received NCHS boarders at her home (58, Highbury). This photograph taken at around this time clearly shows this included boys. [Tyne & Wear Archives]
The C.S.Co. set their standard high in the appointment of NHS’s first Head Mistress.  Miss Caroline Ackerley, a Clough Scholar at Newnham College, Cambridge, had already proved herself as a teacher in three placements after leaving college.  Between 1876-1878 she had worked as an Assistant Mistress at Devenport High School; between 1878-1879 at Ellerslie Ladies College, Manchester; and between 1880-1884 in her home city at Liverpool High School.  She was aged 28 when she took up her first Headship in Newcastle along with her sister, Miss Bessie Ackerley, who also lived in-house.

Miss Caroline Ackerley, NHS Head Mistress 1885 – 1894.

In June 1887, Miss Ackerley made an application for a grant of £10 from the Education Committee to start a Chemical Laboratory at Jesmond Road and in June 1888 she received approval for ‘the appointment of Miss Liddle, Mrs Blandford and Miss Simpson to give lessons in Music at the Newcastle High School, the remuneration being the fees paid by the pupils less 25 per cent.’  Miss Liddle is fondly remembered in the Jubilee book within the recollections of an Old Girl who was at Miss Hewison’s school and who stayed on after the Church Schools’ Company took it over.  From this account we learn that ‘for long desks and forms with no backs we got single desks, and instead of school hours 9 to 12 and 2 to 4 we had long mornings.’  From amongst the teaching staff, she mentions Miss East (afterwards Mrs Anderton), who taught drawing, and Miss Liddle, who taught music.

Victorian young lady working at a single desk.

School politics and ownership changes don’t really affect pupils much, of course, so we will end with a starry-eyed young girl’s first impressions of the new High School on Jesmond Road.  This little girl, Florence Dickinson, would ultimately go on to have the longest historical connection with the School, far out-stripping my 33 years (to date) and even Miss Gurney’s magnificent 35 years at its helm.  Miss Dickinson’s essay ‘Reminiscences’ was published in the School magazine and re-edited for the 1935 Jubilee history.  It covers Miss Dickinson’s time as a girl both at Jesmond Road and Tankerville Terrace, but it is recollections of the former I wish to share here:

Florence Dickinson taught at Newcastle High/Church High for 38 years. The addition of her time as a pupil will bring her life connection with Church High to about 43 years.

‘A great many years ago, three little girls walked sedately along Jesmond Road one September morning on their way to the Newcastle High School for the first time.  They walked so very primly that they were late, for the Prayer bell was ringing as they went in at the door.  They had tried three other doors, all of which looked like front doors, before they had found the right one.  The quantity of front doors was due to the fact that School was in four houses in Jesmond Road: No. 54 was the Head-mistress’s house, No. 56 had had its front passage blocked up and turned into a stationery cupboard, No. 58 was the Girls’ Entrance and No. 60 was the Boarding-house.  Having found the right door, the three little girls were hastily bundled downstairs to what we thought was a cellar and were told to wait there, which we did.  After a little time some-one came to fetch us and it appeared that we ought to have taken our things off because this was the cloakroom.  It was underground and rather dark and next to it was a pitch dark room that we all called the Beetle Cupboard.  It was really a coal cellar and, while we were at lessons, beetles were supposed to emerge from it and ensconce themselves in our boots.  Consequently we always turned our boots upside down and shook them before putting them on – think of what tribes of beetles could have a happy time in a pair of Wellingtons – but I never saw any beetle in spite of all our shaking.  Then we would all get Order Marks for being noisy!

The Queen’s College Waiting Room was a lot grander. Note the girls there working at long tables, as previously described.

‘On entering School via the front door of No. 58, a way had been made through the wall into No. 56 where the vestibule was now the stationary cupboard.  The front and back rooms of No. 56 had been made into one room and formed the Hall [the first Prizegivings were held in School, so this Hall was the likely venue].  Though No. 54 was the Head Mistress’s house, the first floor rooms were one big Form room.  There were about 80 girls in the School and I think six mistresses besides the Head Mistress [Miss Ackerley] and her sister [Bessie Ackerley].  Then there were visiting people for Drawing, Music, Singing and Drill.  We had a sergeant for Drill and the organist of Jesmond Church taught us Singing.  The Vicar of Jesmond came and taught one class – mine – once a week.  We did the Epistle to the Galations – I was eleven years old!  The Church girls went to church on Ash Wednesday, when we had the Communion Service.  The church always had to be found for us by Miss Bessie Ackerley, who accompanied us.  The Head Girl played the hymn at Prayers back then, and the march too.  The Head Mistress took the attendance of the whole school directly after Prayers in the Assembly-room.

A rare very early Newcastle High School prize presentation label from the School’s second Prizegiving in 1886.

‘There were five classes at that time – the big girls were Class One and the little ones Class Five.  After Prayers on our first day, one of my sisters was put into the Third Class (for they were not called Forms then), one into the Fourth, and one into the Fifth with the babies.  I was the one in the Third Class and my Form Room was upstairs.  It looked over Jesmond Road and had three nice long windows nearly down to the ground.  The most interesting seats were next to the windows, and, as we sat in Form order, and I started at the bottom of Class Three (which did not quite fill the room), I was the fortunate possessor of a window seat.  We only played one game in those days, and some of our mothers did not approve of it.  It was a very good game and developed one’s muscles well, but unfortunately it also tore one’s clothes.  It was called ‘Robbers and Bobbies’.

Girls at work in the Library at Queen’s College, London.

‘Lessons with Mademoiselle were memorable.  She always wore a brown dress with a black alpaca apron and very quiet shoes – yet she expected us to open the door for her when she was coming to give us a lesson.  We could not hear her, and our doors had no glass panels so we could not see her, and consequently we all began the lesson feeling cross.  She was also very particular about clean hands.  My Fourth Class sister told me that before their French lesson Mademoiselle always looked at their hands to see if they were clean, and if they were not, sent them to wash them.  Nothing awful happened if you did not appear again at the class.  My sister learnt practically no French while she was at School, as she always arranged to have dirty hands on French lesson days!   But Mademoiselle could be terrifying and my window seat could cause me problems.  On one dreadful occasion during a French lesson, Mademoiselle rushed down the room, pulled my chair from under me and made me sit by the door for the rest of the lesson.  Two of the blinds were down already and it was not a sunny day, so I suppose she could not put my blind down too.  We had all our French lessons almost in the dark!  On a happier note, although I don’t think we had milk at lunch time, buns could be bought.  Wilson’s boy used to come up every day with a basket; when I came back years later as a mistress, Wilson’s boy was still coming every day with buns.

The Newcastle High School Foundation Stone is still in situ.

‘While I was at School, the foundation stone of the new School was laid in a place rather a long way off anywhere called Tankerville Terrace [at this time, the only buildings on the street other than the School were Jesmond United Reformed Church and Haldane House.  The rest was open land up to St Andrew’s Cemetery] and sometime afterwards the new building was opened.  We came to the opening as visitors and three things were striking – you went down steps to the Gymnasium, the Form Rooms had shiny brass locks and glass panels in the walls and doors …. One happy day I came back to my old School as a mistress.’  Just as I joyously returned home there as a NHSG Head of Year in 2016.

The first published picture of the NHS ‘new’ building in 1890.



‘The Newcastle upon Tyne Church High School Jubilee Book 1885-1935’, by A.C. and F.M., published in 1935 by Andrew Reid & Company, Limited.

‘Reminiscences’ by F.E. Dickinson, p. 10 & 11, Newcastle High School Magazine No. 24, March 1913

Minutes of the Church Schools’ Company (Tyne & Wear Archives).

History of Gateshead High School and Central Newcastle High School, Olive Carter, 1955

Queen’s College 1848 – 1948, Rosalie Glynn Grylls, 1948

A History of Queen’s College, London 1848 – 1972, Elaine Kaye, 1972

‘The Making of a Ruling Class’: Two Centuries of Capital Development on Tyneside, Benwell Community Project Final Report Series No. 6, 1978


Remembering Miss Maureen Bainbridge, NCHS Receptionist 1980s – 2000

I have just recently received the very sad news that Maureen Bainbridge, Church High’s Receptionist from the 1980s to 2000, passed away peacefully in hospital on June 30th and wanted to take this opportunity to share this with those of you who may remember her.  Maureen, who had been suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, would have just celebrated her 75th birthday on June 22nd.  Unfortunately for me, I didn’t learn of her passing in time to attend the funeral on July 17th.  I would very much liked to have been there to pay my respects to her, because I remember Maureen with real fondness.

Maureen as I shall always remember her, sitting at the Reception desk in the School Office in 1997. Marie Watson, a Secretary at that time, is pictured behind her.  Always busy, the office looks almost restful back then with pale green walls.

Always immaculately presented, Maureen’s was the smiling face on the Reception Desk in the ‘old style’ School Office, which used to be directly to your right when you entered the room.  I recall there were two chairs to your left which faced it, where visitors could sit.  I vividly remember sitting there myself once  – presumably waiting to speak to Miss Davies – facing Maureen as she spoke to someone on the phone.  She was ringing up to the Staffroom in search of a member of staff at the request of the caller.  “I’m sorry,” I can still hear her saying in her rich, beautifully-polite voice, “but nobody is answering the phone.”  When she had finished the call, I remember saying to her, “Maureen, no-one is answering it because there is nobody else left up there”, it being well after the end of school.  Smiling, Maureen quietly but firmly replied, “Yes, but I need people to know that I have done everything that I can to help them.”  This desire to do everything properly was very typical of Maureen.  (Even if it did make Teaching Staff sound like they were all ignoring the phone!)

Maureen had the perfect telephone manner.  To the outside world, she would have represented the ‘Voice’ of Church High.

After Maureen retired in July 2000, she and I kept in touch every Christmas and on birthdays.  Once or twice I had the pleasure of bumping into her in Town – on one occasion she was with her close friend John McDonald, I recall.  You may remember John as Church High’s ever-smiling Catering Manager for a good number of years.  Maureen and John shared the same sense of humour and a love of conversation.  In a feature entitled ‘Behind the Scenes at Church High’ on page 14 of the 1997 Senior School magazine, the Office and Catering Staff were interviewed by four LV girls who reported that if the secretaries could work for anyone it would be for Church High ‘because they were happy there’.  Interviewing a smiling John in his red-striped apron on ‘Fishy Friday’, they noted he ‘obviously had a great love of his job despite his dream of cooking for Shirley Bassey.’  The Support Staff were always key to the warm Church High spirit.

Head Caterer, John McDonald, dreaming of Shirley Bassey in 1997.

I didn’t know Maureen had become ill, though I was aware I hadn’t heard from her for a while.  The years following the announcement of the merger have subsequently all rather seemed to blur into one.  On hearing of her death, however, I hunted out the last letter I remember having received from Maureen and was shocked to realise it was in 2013.  When I edited the Church High magazine, there was a reason the final five in the rebranded format were called ‘Voices.’  For me, it was very important that the voice of individuals was heard.  Because of this, I think the most fitting way I could end this post dedicated to remembering Maureen is to give her the final words.  Right down to its feminine flowered notepaper, the last birthday letter that she sent to me – full of breezy snippets of news of those members of the Church High extended family with whom she was still in touch – is so ‘very’ Maureen I’d like to share it with you here.  A kind, warm-hearted lady.  Maureen will be much missed.

Good Bye & Thank You: Giuseppe’s Tankerville Legacy, September 2016

My very first visit to the theatre as a child was to see ‘Peter Pan’.  I don’t remember much about the show, but vividly recall being up on high looking down at a stage and being entranced by a very large dog (Nana) each time it appeared.  Most of all I remember being mesmerised by Tinker Bell.  The magic, the darting light, the tinkling laughter.  ‘When the first baby laughed for the first time’, wrote J M Barrie, ‘its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.”  Oh yes, I believe in fairies.  I believe in Angels too.  Spiritual ones with the wings and also the ones without who walk in our midst on a day-to-day basis.  I’m sure you know Frank Capra’s film ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ in which Clarence, the angel, earns his wings.  It is via this warm- hearted character that George Bailey learns the fact that no man is an island: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole.”  And also the value of friendship: “Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.”  Sometimes we need to be reminded about both of these things because, in the busyness of the world around us today, it is very easy to forget.  Did you hear a bell ping at the end of the renovation process way back in September 2016?  Well that was Giuseppe earning his wings via me.

Time to say Good Bye to the fast depleting group of friends (aka angels) without whom this blog would not have been as easy nor as much fun to do: Paul Carmichael, Giuseppe Ferrara and Ken Fikson (above) and the ever-helpful Amy (below).

I miss Giuseppe.  We saw him about the building for quite a while into the new term, as the snagging process seemed to be endless.  It was always a boost to see his smiling face, but he eventually moved on to a new job – a very prestigious one at that – on Lord Lambton’s estate.  It was very fitting, I thought, that the care he had taken to preserve as much of our Old Building’s heritage as possible – in particular the architectural photographs he had taken for this blog – helped him put together the portfolio which secured him the job.  On the day we took these photos, Giuseppe’s wife had just given birth to a baby girl whom he hoped might one day attend this very school.  After he’d gone, I took some shots of the office he had worked from whilst onsite, high up in the eaves at the top of Westward House.  There is no doubt that from here he had a splendid view of School.

Friends in High Places: welcome to the GDST Client’s Office and its Giuseppe-eye view of the Tankerville Old Building.

I know a lot more about the story of Peter Pan now.  It isn’t all child’s play and sparkle-dust.  Peter is, after all, a ‘Lost Boy’ and when we first meet him we learn that has been totally disconnected from his own shadow.  I can identify with that.  And also his determination to become re-connected with it.  Peter’s quest could almost be a metaphor for the creation of my blog.  I felt cast-adrift and severed from my own legacy for a long while after the merger.  But I found a way back.  I have always thought – and taught – in metaphors, a method of analogy which has worked for many of my students over the years.  I hope it’s working for you here.  Pictures can help a lot too.  In visual terms, our trajectory has taken us from here to here:

Architectural plan of the Tankerville Terrace site in 2014.
Architectural plan of the Tankerville Terrace site in 2016.
Google Maps aerial view of Tankerville buildings in 2014.
Google Maps aerial view of Tankerville buildings in 2016.

Of course, how we finally got to the position of re-opening Newcastle High School on Tankerville soil wasn’t as simple as these images might suggest in ‘real-time’ at human grass-roots level.  Real life never is.  However, in February 2018 the working partnership of Ellis Williams Architects and Wates Construction on Tankerville Terrace was recognised as an exemplar of architecture and environmental design at Newcastle City Council’s 2018 Lord Mayor’s Design Awards.  These awards are held every two years to encourage, promote and publicise the best in architecture and environmental design in the North East with a view to improving the built-up environment for all.  Whilst the Tankerville site only achieved Commended Finalist status in the New Building category – the judges describing the rebuild as “an ambitious school project providing modern facilities in a sensitive manner within the conservation area” – the site renovation project as a whole won the Lord Mayor’s Special Award.  The Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor Linda Wright, was “particularly impressed with the investment in the education of the city’s children demonstrated by the scheme.  The combination of works to the existing school and the addition of the exciting new building has created a new learning environment whilst maintaining an historic link with the school’s past.”  Prior to taking up the Lord Mayor’s office, a role Linda’s mother had held before her, Councillor Linda Wright was also present at the unveiling of the Zoe Robinson’s seahorse statue in May 2017.

Councillor Linda Wright, Headmistress Hilary French, sculptress Zoe Robinson and Baltic Curator, Emma Dean at the unveiling of the NHSG bronze seahorse statue in May 2017.

In human terms, however, disorientated and unsighted having been left ‘dumped into the long grass’ (to borrow a helpful analogy from Laurie Lee’s ‘Cider With Rosie’), metaphorical thinking was all there was to sustain us, metaphors being the tool human beings have used to explain the seemingly unexplainable since ancient times.  Some things, it turns out, are just too complex to conform to the unifying order of a string of inter-connected words.  And as the American novelist, Orson Scott Card, understood very well:  “Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space.”  Extended metaphors even more so.  I’d watched the opening of the Ark in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ while Indiana Jones was tied to a post with his eyes tight shut.  Knew of Karen Blixen’s hard-won truths in ‘Out of Africa’: “You know you are truly alive when you’re living among lions.”; “The Earth was made round so that we would not see too far down the road.” 

Old meets New: the Newcastle High School Tankerville Site.

If I were to use the tale of Peter Pan again to convey the dark places along the way as the building and I travelled from the old to the new, the crocodile comes immediately to mind.  But as I set out on my quest for truth to conquer all, there wasn’t the luxury of knowing that my metaphorical crocodile had once swallowed a ticking clock.  At such times, one is grateful for the angels that cross your path.  Which brings me back to Giuseppe and the legacy he left behind.  He will now be forever connected in my mind with the Little Bell Tower.

Giuseppe’s Legacy: the little green bell tower.

I now know the structure isn’t a bell tower, of course, but the phrase ‘Little Green Boyle’s Ventilator’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.  As this blog moves on to focus solely on Church High Heritage now that the story of the Tankerville site transformation is done, you will hear a lot more about the School and its building as it was.  Suffice to say here that the sub-divided classroom (in height), which we knew in recent times as Room 8, was originally designed as a Science Laboratory – in the days when such things were rare indeed.

Oliver & Leeson’s 1889 drawing showing a lab in Newcastle High School’s south-west corner. [Tyne & Wear Archives].
The Newcastle High School building was state-of-the-art for its time.  The article in the Newcastle Courant tells us that ‘for the extraction of foul air, a shaft is taken from every classroom to a central chamber in the roof, where a powerful Blackman fan, driven by a gas engine, is provided for the purpose of summer ventilation especially.’  Robert Boyle & Son of Holborn Viaduct, London, were the leading ventilating engineers at the turn of the 1900s.  Trading under the motto ‘A peoples’ health’s a nation’s wealth’, the Boyle system of natural air ventilation had been applied to over 100,000 buildings.  Oliver & Leeson’s plan of the NHS roof shows a Boyle’s ventilator in situ.

Diagram from ‘The Boyle System of Ventilation’ Catalogue showing the system being applied to a school classroom.

Oliver & Leeson’s 1889 drawing of the Newcastle High School roof showing the Boyle’s Ventilator in place. [Tyne & Wear Archives].
Giuseppe was a Clerk of Works who really did believe in conservation.  His attention to detail knew no bounds and he grew to love the Old Building.  I knew he had a fondness for the Victorian ventilation shaft because he had told me about an original feature he’d found and photographed up there.  We’d been talking about workmen leaving their mark on a building and I’d cited the name scratched on a roof girder in the 1935 extension.  I don’t think that survived, but we still know that Joe Armstong worked on the roof in 1908.

Along with his close-up shots of the Old Hall’s hammerhead beams, these photographs Giuseppe took of the south gable Victorian ventilation shaft are his favourites from the job.

I didn’t talk to Giuseppe again about the ‘Little Bell Tower’ but, as the end of the project was nearing, something Conal said in passing made me smile.  As the teal gloss was being applied to the external doors, I recall asking him if all the wood was going to be teal.  He said he thought so, but then took back his words, nodding at ‘the bit on the roof’ they had previously painted teal but had been made to repaint.  Giuseppe’s orders, he said.  On site, the Clerk of Work’s word is final.  It wasn’t until I downloaded a batch of Giuseppe’s photographs a little later on that the full force of what Conal had meant emerged.  I did tell you that Giuseppe was a stickler for detail and Tankerville is a conservation area after all.  A picture is worth a thousand words they say, so I will stay quiet here and leave it to Giuseppe himself to show you his legacy gift in a little photo story.

A very small ‘victory’ it may have been, but, nevertheless, all those folk who said that everything would change and that nothing would ever be the same again on Tankerville were not completely right.  Did I know this would be the case?  Of course not.  But I had hope.  And I believe in Angels.  I also know that rainbows follow the rain.

The rainbow after the storm appears over the Tankerville Old Girl, 11th November 2016.

It’s not the same, of course.  The building doesn’t have the same feel or spirit and I try to avoid going into the old Hall and the LRC, but it’s still more identifiably Church High than was no doubt ever the intention.  Early in the first term back on Tankerville, I passed a lady being shown around the Old Building and as the pair moved on I heard her say “Your legacy isn’t anywhere near as obvious as I thought it was going to be …” Out of the corner of my eye I saw the guide glance my way and felt the tailing off followed by a silence.  I beg to differ, of course.  Because a legacy cannot be just glossed over, obliterated forever by a coat of white paint and the installation of huge expanses of glass.  It’s a lot more prevailing than that.  It just takes one person to still remember and Church High was not the kind of place people forget.  My mother once gave me a praying hands necklace with the Serenity Prayer on the reverse: ‘Dear God, give me the Grace to accept the things that cannot be changed, the Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one  from the other’.  Without ever learning it, I’ve never forgotten that prayer and, come merger time, what I could do was conserve the history.  Like all the girls who walked out into the world through the green front door, in true Church High fashion I used the Voice I was given.  If Giuseppe’s legacy is the ventilator, then mine is this blog.  And as with Joe Armstrong before us, our names are now a part of the building, there to be discovered by someone like me, somewhere in the future, who might take the time to muse, “I wonder who they were?  And what part did they play?”

My name signed on the Topping Out iron girder is now absorbed into the New Building (above) while Giuseppe’s joins Joe Armstrong’s high up on the Old Building’s roof top (below).

Giuseppe’s Sign-Off to me: the Post-It note left on my monitor.

With all the metaphorical dust now settled, it surprises even me just how much green there is still dotted around the Tankerville site.  And that’s not even counting the green of the grass and trees.  Little did one know, awash with waves of sadness as skips were filled, that four years on the Old Girl would still be green from her head to feet.

Yesterday’s Colour: so much ‘went the journey’ back then.
But green is still there now at the top of the Old Building….
….. and is still very much in evidence down in the basement.

It’s all down to the angle you choose to look at things, I guess.  Which is how the new glass can’t help but look green when looked at slant.

The elemental hue of Life, green is a very hard colour to eliminate should you be that way inclined.  As it takes up more space in the spectrum visible to the human eye, green will dominate any scene.

It’s a fact: you can never fail to see these handmarks (above) and Zoe’s bronze seahorse (below) will always dominate the front of School.

The July we left Eskdale, I gave Hilary a present of one of my ‘wise little’ books, Kate DiCamillo’s ‘Because of Winn Dixie.’  Its back jacket blurb ends with the line ‘just about everything that happens that summer is because of Winn Dixie’.  Hilary appreciated why I’d given it to her.  Understood the implied analogy.  Yes, a lot of things have happened ‘because of the merger’.  A lot.  It’s not a ride I would have opted to take in a million years and it’s important to remember it was difficult for us all.  The ultimate winner is history.  Owing to the merger, the Jesmond landscape has already changed once and there will be even bigger changes to it very soon.  Yes, we should all pay more attention to history. Winn Dixie’s final line is ‘And I listened careful, so I could learn it right.’  A lesson I hope now learned by all.

‘The Wheel has come full circle’: from September 2018, Tankerville Terrace will once again boast the only High School for girls in Jesmond. Central Newcastle High School is destined to be replaced by a Pegasus Life retirement village.

So where do we go from here?  Well, as a good friend of mine, Peter Sarah (General Manager of Theatre Royal, R.I.P.) often used to say: ‘Onwards and Upwards’.  Because that is the only way.  Always.  All things green eventually find the light and grow towards it. And if you would care to join me, we take our bearings from the second star to the right.  From there, I promise you, it is straight on until morning.

‘All things come to those who wait’: Omnia Vincit Veritas.


‘No New Thing Under the Sun’: 126 Years Further On, A Newcastle High School for Girls on Tankerville, 6th September 2016

‘Joy and woe are woven fine,
A clothing for the soul divine,
Under every grief and pine,
Runs a joy with silken twine.

~ William Blake ~

September 6th 2016, the long-awaited day when School would return to Tankerville Terrace, turned out to be a Tuesday.  The second day of the week seemed highly appropriate to me for the opening of a Newcastle High School for Girls on Tankerville the second time around.  In the end, a day which for so long had become synonymous with feelings of hope and excitement turned out to be a day of conflicting and mixed emotions.  Probably no surprise.  Historically, philosophers have assumed that mixed emotions are derived from primary emotions.  However, as with colours, in reality our emotions do not fall into clear-cut categories with sharp boundaries.  In psychological terms, it’s the strongest emotion that gets action priority.  So joy was the primary emotion that day.  For me and for our girls.

Three of our Church High girls, happy to be home once again.

As many of you will know, traditionally girls have always entered the Tankerville building by the side entrance, but this no longer applies.  Because of this, the side entrance hadn’t received the ‘deep clean’ most of the public areas seemed to have undergone overnight and even today there were still remnants of Church High colours there.

Still a few remnants of blue for the sky and green for the trees.

At least the new netting round the all-weather pitch was dark green.

Although the new playing surface was still to be laid at that point, the new perimeter netting was a splendid shade of green (above). And when the tennis court surface was finally laid by CLS Sports (below), the full effect was even better!

Over the course of this blog, I have tried to avoid the format ‘this happened and then that happened’ as much as I could, but, now we have come to the end of the line as far as the site renovation goes, please forgive the more matter-of-fact approach within this post.  In preparation for its interim role as the NHSG Locker Room until the lockers could be installed externally at the back of the Old Building, the clear-out and clean-up in the Tankerville Sports Hall had been completed the previous day.  The far end now looked very different.

As locker rooms have always been a gathering point for girls during breaks, those circular tables from the Church High dining hall were eventually put to use.  Ditto the old forms.
It didn’t take long once the girls were onsite for bags to be stashed on top of the lockers – despite frequent warnings!

Construction of the outside locker shelters did not begin until the October and it was November before the girls could final use them.  The company who were awarded the tender were Action Storage.

The outside locker installation began in October. It was noisy!
A canopy redesign (and a re-quote) was ultimately required.
Behind the Old Science Block looked like this by November.
Leaves are the least of the disadvantages of outside lockers!

But to return to the start of term, the interior of the New Building did look amazing as preparations for the school day got underway.

Entrance & Dining Area of the New Building from the Kitchen.
The Salad, Sandwich and Dessert Bar is stocked up ready for lunchtime in the Servery Area (above) and for the first week the digital screen in the Dining Area showed the time-lapse video Wates created as the New Building was built (below).

Although this is gradually being whittled away now, under Hilary French every day began with a Briefing in the Staffroom at 8.25 am and the first day of Newcastle High School Mk2 was no exception.

NHSG staff congregated for the first Briefing on Tankerville before (above) and after (below) the arrival of Hilary French.

As with all first days of the new school year, it was off to the Form Rooms after that followed fairly promptly by Full School Assembly.

The new Hall as set up for its first Assembly.

By chance, this was one of my lighter teaching days, but, back in the Head of Year Office, it wasn’t possible to get comfy there yet.  Right from the start we had painters from Purdey’s around a lot of the time, touching up corridor walls which had been scuffed when the removal men brought in the furniture.  Surely white must be one of the least practical colours for a school, I said?   Every tradesman agreed and, despite the signage, even I got white paint on my clothes.

Chris from Purdey’s at work beside our office.

To be honest, since the side car park was used as a builder’s yard right up until November, my Chemistry-Prep-Room-Sink desk, despite being the window seat, wasn’t the ‘best seat in the house’ for a long while.  Noisy and weird things kept appearing at the window.

Welcome to my world: one day a lorry, the next a huge cement-mixer (above) but eventually I did make myself at home there (below) – despite the hard plastic chair and the room being sandwiched between two wall-mounted audio screens.

We were miles away from the Staffroom – literally at the opposite end of the school – but we had use of a little kitchen in the Old Building where the sliding door between the large and small dining rooms used to be.  That suited me fine and there was a staff toilet nearby too – running the full length of the old Waiting Area and Meeting Room.  On my way there that morning, I spied a familiar figure through the glass on my left.  Giuseppe was snagging already.

I spy with my little eye Giuseppe Ferrara glued to his smart-phone in the back Quadrangle.

I went out into the Quadrangle to speak to Giuseppe, despite this being extremely risky at that time owing to the fact that one of the doors leading onto it had no outside handle and one a broken code pad.  I’d already fallen foul of this situation and been trapped in the Quad, only getting back in because two girls in the LRC saw me.  I reported the fact to John Crosby, NHSG’s equivalent of Mr Keen.  He was aware of the problem, but it wasn’t sorted for a while.  Much to my amusement, the very same thing happen to him a little later on!  You did have to have a sense of humour at times back then.  However, this didn’t help me that day.  I’d noticed earlier that the Centenary Plaque was missing from the Science Block wall and I wanted to ask Giuseppe about it.  When I told him, he said it was still there until he looked up and saw that it wasn’t.  He keyed a number into his phone straight away and from what was said I could tell he was talking to Nick.  I could also tell that the answer wasn’t good.

Where is the Centenary Plaque? How long had it been gone?

I know I’ve told you about the loss of the Centenary Plaque before, something I still feel frustrated about having managed to protect so many Church High artefacts for so long.  And for it to have survived for so long too.  I hadn’t taken my eye off the ball, I’d simply trusted it would be safe having confirmed with Nick that it was connected to the building.  What was moving that day, though, was Giuseppe’s evident frustration and anger too.  He sincerely apologised to me and I thanked him for his help.  What was so hard to stomach was that it had just been chucked in a skip.  I knew it would have been because it was cross-shaped.  I had guessed its fate straight away.  On my return to the office, my spirits had sunk low into my boots but I still noticed activity outside the window and engine noise too.  They were finally removing the skip from the car park.  A skip?!!!!

Ever the optimist, what if this was THE skip, I wondered?

I went to the side door to watch it go past.  I might not have been able to save the plaque, but I could at least record its departure for the blog.  Explaining to the brickie at the bottom of the steps why I was photographing a skip lorry led to me telling him the full story.  And it’s not as if I could have got them to empty it either, I said.  “Perhaps not,” replied the brickie, who I learned was called Charlie, “but that skip will be going to a depot and it WILL be emptied there.” This is where it becomes farcical, I know, but I was on a mission now.

Yet another kind man! Charlie the Brickie.

So off across the road I went towards Westward in search of Nick.  The moment he saw me he apologised.  “I should have realised, Christine, I’m really sorry.”  I asked about the skip, but it turned out the plaque had been taken down about 3 weeks ago, around the time of the ‘Big Push’.  Hardly surprising then that Nick’s mind had been elsewhere.  I reiterated that once something was at the bottom of a skip, I could hardly expect workmen to use time to try to find it.  But again I was touched by the response.  “If it had just been a case of that, Christine, they would be doing it now, I promise you!”  Yes, it was certainly a day of very mixed feelings.  Mind you, it has been this way for most of the time.  Big sadnesses, little triumphs, yet plenty of laughs too and I have met so many wonderful people.

Nick White, Project Manager, in Wates’ Office in Westward House. A really nice man who always made time for me.

As I said earlier on, it was a light teaching day for me.  Very luckily.  Back on Tankerville Terrace again, I had time to stop and take stock.

‘The Old Girl’ photographed from Westward House gateway on September 6th 2016 (above) & on July 5th 2014 (below).

I first walked into Oliver & Leeson’s old building in April 1985, which is probably part of the reason I took the loss of the plaque so badly.

I guess I don’t really need a plaque to remind me of the fact that the year 1985 marked the start of a time of great blessing in my life.

Just yesterday whilst creating a hyperlink for this post I stumbled upon a news article which had obviously passed me by in March.  The Evening Chronicle report on Shepherd Offshore’s planning permission request to the local council to demolish the Central High building on Eskdale Terrace to make way for 60 retirement flats.  A lot of things had changed and an awful lot of things lost, but ‘The Old Girl’ was still standing (indeed future-proofed now to a great extent), I was still ‘with the ship’ and it helped a lot to know the history.  And we all know history always ends up repeating itself.  The ivy cross may no longer be there and the main entrance look like this.

The Centenary Plaque may now be gone forever and the Main Building now be called The Dame Catherine Cookson Building.

But that seems quite fitting considering the history once again.  The Tankerville building would have been very familiar to Catherine Cookson, who moved into the last house on the Westward side of Haldane Terrace with her husband Tom when they returned North.  And the Church Schools’ Company foundation stone is still in place.

Not quite a cross, I guess. Perhaps it wasn’t immediately obvious that C.S.Co. stood for Church Schools’ Company.

No, the Bible tells us there is nothing new under the sun and, later on, when the finishing touches were added to Reception, a girl transported 126 years forward in time would still know she was home.

Amazingly, there is still green and blue in every classroom, in both the Old and New Buildings (the latter still without a name even to this day).  I couldn’t believe it when I saw the colour of the bins.

A reminder of ‘The Old Days’ in every Tankerville classroom.

The Church High community is still very much alive and thriving, although we meet up in the digital world nowadays like a kind of academic Brigadoon which is there all the time, not just once a year.

Virtual Church High tours are now taken via the Heritage Site.

And as for Mother Nature, her growth is green, as we all know, and it’s impossible to keep the Old Girl down.  Rather like our ‘Old Girl.’

The Tankerville ivy is on the way back up!

‘Unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. 

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.’

~ Ecclesiastes 1:7 & 9 ~

on Tankerville Terrace Reflecting on the old as we welcome in the new. A celebration of those who helped shape the building.