Memories of Chillingham Road School

Memories of Chillingham Road School
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Memories of Chillingham Road School

By Janet Herdman

Janet, on visiting the school again for its 120th anniversary, compares the modern day Chillingham Road with the school she remembers. The experience of evacuation in the early days of World War 2 is vividly recalled.

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Memories of Chillingham Road School

By Janet Herdman

From outside the school today looks as it always has (except for the new windows,) a big imposing Victorian pile, but step inside and the changes are amazing. We were invited to take part in the celebration of the schools 120 years anniversary and found it to be warm, welcoming, and colourful, a lovely place for children to learn in. I remember large rooms, high ceilings and not always very warm. The big cloakrooms were closed with metal grill doors which were locked at 9am so that if you arrived after 9 then you had to go in to assembly in your coat making it obvious you were late. I know I was very worried if I was but I can’t remember the consequences - probably black mark!

Lessons I enjoyed were scripture with big bible wall picture and learning about other countries such as China and also Japan, where because of earthquakes the houses were built of paper and cardboard which I thought was fascinating. We must have learned about the abdication because at one point we marched round the yard singing –

            “What’s that coming down the Street?

            Mrs Simpsons sweaty feet!”

Not taught in school that one!!

But my favourite was Friday afternoon reading with lovely Miss Brown, stories such as Poolawn of the Elephants and the poem Hiawatha and prayers morning and home time played an important part in the day.

Christmas was lovely with a tree and a concert and one Christmas I had to stand on the stage to recite a poem (with accompanying actions I suppose,) and for some reason this has stayed with me all these years. It went –

Fiddle Sticks

                        I’ve been and hung my stocking up          

                        And Grandmas too

                        I’ve been and told Santa Claus

                        Just what to do

                        I asked my grandma what she’d have

                        She put on her specs and shook her head

                        And “FIDDLESTICKS” was all she said

                        I wonder what she wants them for

                        She didn’t say

                        She hasn’t got a fiddle

                        And she couldn’t play!

This tickled me I think because my Grandma lived with us. At playtime we had little bottles of milk in the big hall, I worried I couldn’t get it finished in time because it was so cold. We made little toffee cakes in paper cases and sold them for 1d for the cot fund at one of the hospitals.

But at the beginning of September 1939 when I was 8, all our lives changed. The Children being evacuated because of the war assembled I the schoolyard with gasmasks and haversacks packed with clean clothes (for a holiday!) We were labelled with our names, given tins of corned beef, condensed milk and biscuits for our prospective hosts and marched down to Heaton station, to put on a train to the sea – exciting for us but not for our mothers I expect who waved us off tearfully.

I never imagined it would be 75 years before I again stood in that schoolyard, as when I came home it was to attend Services School.

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Project Details

Roots and Visions

Memories of Chillingham Road School, which has been at the heart of its community for 120 years.

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