North Pentland Primary School, Billingham c1940ish

This was my first school, I started there in 1951, the school was officially opened on the 10th of June 1938. The school consisted of two identical buildings separated by a pavilion, this pavilion had two pillars holding up the roof.

The buildings had five classrooms either side of the main hall, the hall was an unusual design with a semi circular bow front and an Oast house style of roof. The building to the left of the pavilion is the Infants school, the Junior school is to the right. The school faced South and every window in the classrooms of the buildings could be opened, when this happened it was very nearly the same as being outside.

When first opened there were no houses in front of the school and the playing field extended as far as the railway line about a quarter mile away, it was only rough scrub land the beginning of which can be seen at the bottom of the photo.

The school was built to serve the needs of the large number of people that were moving into Billingham from all parts of the country, all of the houses surrounding the school were built by ICI to house the incoming workers, this is similar to the Furness shipyard building their estate at Belasis in the 1920s.

In the late 1940s Billingham Council built the Junction Estate using a large part of the school field for a section of Cotswold Crescent, about ten years after this another part of the field disappeared when Braid Crescent was built.

Things I remember about the school were wood parquet flooring, which, in combination with boots with “Seggies” made a satisfying amount of noise, terrible outside toilets that froze solid in the Winter, nearly every school in Britain had similar sanitary arrangements at that time, extremely high ceilings in the classrooms with lights on long flexes, a “coolie hat” lampshade and tiny bulb that cast very little light, cast iron double seated desks, china inkwells, scratchy pens that made good darts and of course the best known of all, the frozen milk perched on top of the bottles.

I attended three different schools in Billingham, The North, The South And Campus Stephenson Hall, the first two were built in the 1930s and are still in use, the last one was built in the late 1950s and is long gone.

Photograph and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

24 thoughts on “North Pentland Primary School, Billingham c1940ish

  1. I remember the strict Mrs Webster, the head in the infants. We had Mrs Marshall in the nursery class, in the juniors it was Mrs Bance in the porta cabin, Mr Robson took PE. Mrs Williamson, Mr Jackson, who was strict and scary. Mrs Woodall, Mr Tunstall and Mr Pritchard. The super Miss Castling, for music although Mrs Tatchell taught the recorder. Also the glamourous Mrs Dennis.
    Great memories. Remember the marble season along the dirty drain? Also those round chocks with long strings you held as you balanced on the cardboard tubes! Maybe they were to teach you to walk in high heels!!
    I remember the performances of The Wizard of Oz and Joseph and his multi coloured dream coat…We could have made Hollywood.
    Happy days…We didn’t need x boxes, mobiles, computers, did we.


    • Mrs Woodall was the worst teacher I ever had in the 7 years that I attended billy north. Very humourless and strict, used to shout at me and occasionally belt me, sometimes for things I hadn’t done. I don’t know what her problem was, but she seemed to have an agenda against me. I suspect it was because I was the only person in class that didn’t cry when she shouted at me.I was in her class for my third and final year in infant school, which would have been in 1975-1976. I still have nightmares about her, even to this day, and I’m now 52 years old.


  2. Started at North infants, 1953. I think the houses of Braid, and the new houses of Cotswold, were built by then. I can remember looking out of the classroom window, and seeing the loco’s going by, between the houses. In the infants, I remember Mrs Webster, but none of the others. I remember a friend of mine falling off the wall off what was the reception class building, towards the centre left of the photograph. He broke his arm. I remember the prefabs in the juniors. For some reason, our class used to split up for English lessons, and some went into the prefab. Did Mr Heslop have a three wheeler, as well as Mr Kitchen?, I’m sure I saw him one day. What surprises me, when compared to these days, is how far young children would come to school unaccompanied by adults. At five years old I would walk by myself from Roseberry Road, and a number of us walked from West of the old A19, Monseaton Drive, Grovener Road etc. We would play marbles coming home, and take ages to arrive home. My youngest daughter, taught at the infants, for a while, before she emigrated to Australia, and one day I took her to see my old classroom.I still recognised it, after sixty years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hadn’t forgotten Mr Heslop but had forgotten his name! He didn’t teach me, thank goodness, but he used to come into our class sometimes and make very childish jokes. Apart from Mr Philips the only teachers I remember the names of were Mr Unsworth, Mr Stribling and Mrs Marshall. Mr U was very serious; Mr S and Mrs M came over as more human but all three were excellent teachers. However my sister, 2 years younger than me, hated Mrs Marshall and was really annoyed when she found out she was to be taught by her in the 4th as well as the 3rd year.
      Mr Philips had a Ford Prefect, black of course.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It was Billingham North County Infants and Billingham North County Junior School. Some people referred to it as ‘Pentland’ because it was in Pentland Avenue but it was never referred to as Pentland North. I remember the desks, inkwells, toilets, frozen milk and, in hot weather, the stink of warm milk.
    The photo was presumably before the prefabs were built. I was in one of them in the 2nd year of the juniors, 1955/6. In sunny weather they were unbearably hot and there were neither blinds nor curtains. I remember sometimes feeling really ill because of the sun shining right on me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • WoW my very first school I lived at 36 Mendip Road, Billingham and started at the Infant school Mrs Roxbury was the head teacher them moved on to the junior part and poor old Mr Phillips was head he was a very military man and ran the school very well .. but strict and firm I was always the nuisance of the week and every Friday at assembly we appeared on the Stage and denounced as naughty children…I must say I made it every Friday (Nightmare pupil lol)

      Liked by 1 person

    • You are quite correct about the name of the school, this image is a postcard and the title is as printed on the back.

      Everybody I know always referred to the school as “The North” or occasionally “Billy North”, Pentland was never mentioned even though the main entrance was in Pentland Avenue, in the six years I was at the school I never entered through the main entrance, I came in through the gates next to the school kitchens very close to the dreadful prefab classes you mentioned.

      The prefabs were certainly there in 1951, I remember Mr Kitchen parked his Bond three wheeled car in front of the prefabs, I also remember him lifting the bonnet to kick start it.

      I photographed the school two years ago and it has barely changed, the windows are now plastic but the main structure is the same.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Jean
          It may have been you I remember, not Christine. The surname is certainly familiar.
          My 10th birthday was in January 1957 so we may have been in the same year. We weren’t in the same class though. We had Mr Stribling in the 3rd form, 1956/7, and Mrs Marshall in the 4th form, 1957/8.
          At school I was known as Pat but hated it.


          • Good morning Patricia. I had Mr Archer, Mrs Marshall and Mr Unsworth the last two years of juniors,
            I wonder if you are thinking of Christine Sansby? I must organise myself and click on the links we’ve been given below. My birthday is the 3rd of January 1946. Maths not being my strong point at this time of the morning (anytime really ! ) I think I was eleven in 1957. Were we in different years?


  4. There are a lot more of the above ramblings in my interactive computer Photo & Memories Album of Billingham Schools in the 1950s, also in the album there are numerous photos and writings of a 1950s childhood, there are 66 school photos as well as many pages of memories written by various people, the program runs on Windows computers and is absolutely free.

    It can be downloaded from either of the two sites below or I can be
    contacted at:

    Site 1 : Microsoft OneDrive:!Ajpj0BgkXQUQeAueUbrBZDzipmE?e=uO1uHQ

    Site 2 :Dropbox:


    • Hi, you sent me 3 CD roms with Billingham pics etc on last year, don’t know if you remember, is it ok to pass on that last info onto a Billingham group on Facebook, I think there will be a few interested people that would like to hear/see them.


      • Hi Tony, yes I do remember I hope the pictures were of interest.
        It is fine for you to pass on the additional info.

        If any of your group attended a Billingham School in the 1950s and they feel they can write a short piece about their time there I would love to hear from them.

        See email address in my first comment.


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