St Gerards School, Haverton Hill

Bill Burnett has written his memories of his time at St. Gerard’s school for my album project and I thought it may be an idea to use his words. Bill was at the school in the early to mid 1950s.

‘There were just four classrooms in the school with folding partition ‘walls’ between them; infants at one end, the seniors at the other. When the folding partitions were opened up a fair sized space was created, which had been used in the past for Sunday mass; though I don’t remember it being used for that purpose while I was there. Miss McNamee took the infants, Mrs McGloghlan took the next class, then Mr Carroll took the third class, and finally the headmaster Mr. Morrisey took the senior class. I have a clear memory of my first day at school and being paired with another boy – his name long forgotten – who was very tearful after his mum had left. We were given a toy ‘shop’ to play with. At some point in the proceedings Miss McNamee asked if anyone could count to more than 10. My hand shot up and I confidently counted 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King, Ace; my parents and grandparents were keen card players and I was all too familiar with the hierarchy of a pack of cards! Miss McNamee was highly amused but my mother was mortified when she told her. On another occasion we had an inspector visiting the school he wrote the initials B.Sc on the chalk board and he asked if anyone knew what they stood for. Muggins responded with “British Sugar Corporation”. Well – at that time if you went shopping and bought sugar it came in blue paper bags with British Sugar Corporation printed on the side; a reasonable mistake to make I think.

Behind the school there was a playground with a toilet block and to the side a sloping playing field, which was out of bounds in wet weather.
The lower part of this field was largely devoid of grass and after rain we would often find small coloured patches on the surface of the mud, indicating that there was a metallic object buried beneath. These would be eagerly dug up in the hope of finding a coin. In those days we used to have free milk delivered to the school in 1/3 pint bottles. In the winter the milk often froze and pushed the foil top off leaving the creamy top part sticking out of the bottle – ice cream!’

Courtesy of Bruce Coleman and Bill Burnett.

11 thoughts on “St Gerards School, Haverton Hill

  1. Bill Burnett mentioning that the school milk was delivered in 1/3rd-pint small bottles reminded me that boys in those days boys used to collect the larger size 1-pint milk bottle cardboard tops to play a boy’s game based on who could throw his bottle top closest to the school wall, this throwing game was normally conducted between 3-to 4 players and the player closest to the wall with his bottle top from a distance of about 12 feet won everyone else ‘bottle-top’. Another game we played after school was called ‘alleys, ‘this was a game using, glass marbles, you had to hit someone else marble closest to yours with yours marble, if you hit it then you claimed and kept his marble if you missed his marble then he claimed yours and took it.

    The girls had their own playground and used to play a game called ‘hopscotch’ or skipping with a rope, but these were considered by the boys sissy games which no boy would ever dream of watching or taking part. These playground games sort of give a rhythm and rhyme to school life but were unimportant when compared to Morning Prayers and the singing of hymns followed by the Lord’s Prayer. Wouldn’t we all be rich today if we had a shilling for every time we sang ‘’’And did those feet in ancient times walk upon England’s Mountain Green’, our national hymn Jerusalem, for some very understandable reason ”I thought the author William Blake must have meant that Jesus had climbed Roseberry Topping, and it seemed right and proper that he should?

    Bob Wilson. Happy Christmas To All.


  2. Reading this has just brought back so many memories. I attended St Gerards from infant class through to finally leaving in 1963. Mr Morrisey was headmaster for most of my time but by the time I moved into the top class Mr English had taken over as Headmaster. Tony English played a big part in my education, encouraging me to continue onto secondary and tertiary education. I still have the glowing, hand written reference that Tony English gave to me when I left school.
    I attended Mr English’s funeral in 2003 and was shocked to realise that I recognised very few of the people also attending the service, I guess I had just spent so many years living and working away from the area that I had just lost touch.
    I remember a few school trips to Scarborough, Whitley Bay, Whitby, and even one year visiting Ushaw College, this may have been an attempt to generate some recruitment into the priest training college.
    Old school pals included Peter McGrogan and Ves Maddren.
    Outside of school myself and Ves Maddren had paper rounds working for Burbridges paper shop near the shipyard, those paper sacks could get very heavy, particularly on a Sunday.
    It is wonderful to read accounts of the school from days long ago, hopefully more ex pupils will be encouraged to add to the memories.

    Bill Pearce


    • Hello Bill

      Can I have your permission to use your comment and name in my school photo and memories album.

      I have two photos that feature your friend Peter McGrogan, one I have sent to Picture Stockton the other is a St. Gerards football team from 1956, I have already posted a similar picture on Picture Stockton but from a year earlier.


      • Bruce,
        No problem at all with using my comments/name. I saw the earlier photo showing Peter McGrogan as the goalkeeper in the St Gerards team. As a coincidence Ves Maddren took up the goalkeeping duties after Peter McGrogan. As a small school we only had a small pool of football players to pick from, resulting in quite a few defeats to schools having far greater resources. I remember in one game played on St Johns pitch, Dessie Carol was acting as referee, we were being completely overrun by the opposition and Dessie decided to assist us by playing a small part in our midfield to even things up, we still lost. Others playing in that game included Jimmy Kennedy, George (Porky) Ward, Billy Coleman, Tony Robinson, Richie (Taffy) Wills, Anthony (Booty) Dilleston. I am sure that more of the names will come back to me in the fullness of time.
        My Cousin, Margaret Donnelly, also attended St Gerards around the same time as myself. In later years she spent quite a bit of time visiting Tony English when his health was failing.
        In 2009 I was Head of Department for an Anglo/Indian oil Company and I was visiting the Project Office in Gurgaon, India. We had a number of QS’s working for us and one of them turned out to be an old classmate from St Gerards, no other than Richie (Taffy) Wills, small world indeed.

        Bill Pearce


        • Many thanks Bill

          If you can remember any names from your school days do let me know, the next phase of my album project is to put all names in alphabetical order, I have over 800 names so far, I want as many names as possible of pupils at any Billingham or Haverton Hill schools during the 1950s, once I have created the album pages it is very difficult to insert names so any late comers will appear at the end, I am trying to avoid this as much as possible.

          The Billy Coleman you mentioned is my cousin, he lived in Rosedale Crescent/Avenue, I think his sister Jenny may have also attended St, Gerards, his younger siblings probably went to St. Johns in Billingham as they had relocated to Roscoe Road by the time they were old enough to start school.

          Billy’s father was the eldest of six children five boys and one girl, two of the boys and the girl are still with us and well into their 80s, my father was the second eldest.

          Bruce Coleman


    • This is an excerpt taken from Bill Burnett’s schoolday memories, it may help you place the location of St. Gerards. Bill lived in Tees Street at the time.

      “I went to St. Gerard’s Roman Catholic School at Belasis. The walk to school took me down St. Vincent Street, across Marlborough Road, then along a footpath around the fenced boundary of the Furness sports ground on to Nelson Avenue, then up the slight hill, always referred to as “Hill 60”, to Howard Crescent, at the end of which was my school.”


      • Hi
        I lived on Cowpen Road and our back yard was opposite Bill Burnetts back yard. When I was 5 we moved to Collingwood Road. All five of us attended St Gerards School. I left at in 1962 and my younger brothers and sister all moved to schools in Billingham when we moved to Braemar Road in 1963. The pupils I can remember were Margaret Boyle,
        Jenny McGrogan, Glenda Baker, Doreen McCallum, Margaret Donnelly, Rosie Deary, The Pledger Twins, Bill Burnett of course. Verity Madren. Mr Morrisey and Mr English, Miss McNamee, Mrs Karney(Housekeeper) mrs Mcgloughlan. The Christmas Party’s and church fetes. Trips out especially to London once by train to Earl Court I think. We went for two days and stayed in my first hotel ever. I loved that school and it will remain in my memory for ever. I am so glad I wasn’t around to see Haverton Demolished. I have lived in Cornwall for 47 years but still come back to visit family and friends.


    • I lived at the bottom of Cleveland Avenue, and the school “St. Gerard’s” was at the top of the hill, can’t remember the road it was on.


  3. Thanks Bruce & Bill for the Photo of St. Gerard’s School brought back memories, break times playing football on the field, sports day on the field, when I was there Mr A.C.English & Mr J Kearney was teachers, & Mass was every Sunday, come Monday morning at school, we were tested on our Catechism lol scary times. If you could turn that picture around you would see down the hill fields on the right & houses, start of Cleveland Avenue.


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