A moment in time at Robert Atkinson School, Thornaby


I attended Robert Atkinson Secondary Modern School on Thorntree Road, Thornaby from 1965 until 1971. My swimming certificate from 1969, my school report from 1965 and my school reference from Mr Irvin, headmaster in 1971. I was in the Westerdale House – colour Green.

Photographs and details courtesy of Michael Hymer.

21 thoughts on “A moment in time at Robert Atkinson School, Thornaby

  1. In the late 60s, students were allowed to attend educational courses free of charge on a range of subjects.
    One of which was on Parliamentary procedure by our history teacher, an instructive course.
    The other, a course on astronomy at Bertram Ramsay School in Middlesbrough. Each session was extremely captivating by the lecturer [John McCue] and visiting persons with technical knowledge. Photocopy handouts from the Norton’s Star Atlas were handed out, such a precious informational source, until I purchased the original book myself. Students of the class had the opportunity to build their own 6 inch reflecting telescope. The components organised through the course facilitators. Firstly, grinding the mirror on a concrete base with a timber post that would eventually become the stand for the telescope. When the glass was correctly shaped, the surface then aluminized for completion.
    An organized trip to the astronomy facility at Manchester University, where delicate laboratory experiments were being carried out, needless to say hands off! Then, the impressive Jodrell Bank with all that technology and exhibiting a feat of engineering splendour. From the gift shop I returned with an astronomy book, holding tight on my precious acquisition all the way home.
    One night, lights at Bertram School were out for some reason. The class then traveled to a small observatory owned by John McCue in Eston, as an article in a newspaper recorded the event. Students were allowed to join the Cleveland Astronomy Society.


  2. A bloke called Cockfield taught metalwork when I was there. Swagger Swainston was Woodwork, Mr Brookes Science, Mr Hobson and Mr Tweedy Maths and Mrs Old (mother of the cricketer Chris Old and Rugby player Alan Old), taught English. I remember you Micheal Hymer. My mum and yours were great friends and but for a migraine they’d both have been on the same Riley’s coach with such tragic consequences.


    • The Dibbles Bridge Coach Disaster was tragic, where my mother suffered a fractured skull and broken collar bone, also the unprecedented emotion of surviving the crash where others were sadly taken from us and are forever in our thoughts.


    • Yes, the Dibbles Bridge Coach Disaster on the 27th May 1975 was extremely emotional for everyone. After watching the news on the television on my own, I had to express to my father in words that appeared to be an untrue statement, due to disbelief. Many very close friends died that day and the survivors were burdened with emotional stress. My mother suffered a fractured cranium and a broken clavicle. The Rotary Club ferried us to Airedale Hospital to see our relatives, which was much appreciated and many thanks to them in our time of need. Emotions still run high for all of us over this tragedy. We remember in contemplation, what all of us lost the fateful day.


  3. I was in the choir who performed at the Llangollen Eistedford every July. Also the choir went to Montreux in Switzerland in 1967. Still singing here in Rotherham. Am in 2 choirs. Never thought that I would ever leave Thornaby and be involved in music at 67. I had wonderful teachers. Regards Sandra Dover


  4. Hi. My name is Sandra Dover and I attended Robby Ack from 1963 till 1968. I was in the school choir with Mrs Soulby. I became Head Girl in my last year. I was in Westerdale. Good days, good teachers who laid the foundations for me to become a teacher here in Rotherham. Now retired. Regards Sandra Dover


    • I really enjoyed the introduction to classical music records that was played in class.If my memory serves me right, there was a ceramic plate trophy from the Eisteddfod choir competition that Mrs Soulby proudly held. Sadly, playing musical instruments or singing were out of my reach. Listening and appreciating music has never wavered from the emotional effect that sustains one mentally through life. The only prize I received was for neat handwriting in my early days at school was a book token ( Bodies Bookshop in Middlesbrough) and I selected my very first book on astronomy. I have taught computer aided design in college.
      Best Regards
      Michael Hymer


      • Hi Michael. I cannot remember the plate but can remember the Eistedford. I went every year with the school choir. We also went to Switzerland in 1967 and took part in the Montreux festival. Music is my passion and I have passed many exams. Am doing my singing diploma on Wednesday.i did music as a main at Middlesbrough training college and I came to work here in Rotherham in 1976. I was in charge of Music at my school. Am in 2 choirs and having singing lessons. I Am now retired. I remember Bodies book shop. Regards Sandra Dover


    • Hello Sandra.
      I am very happy you did so well in your career. I too have fond memories of our choir. We had some great times together at Llangollen and Montreux
      I am also now retired after a lifetime in Hospitality and Catering.


      • Hi Kenneth. I remember you well. The Switzerland choir had their photo taken with my nana and mum. They were Mayor and Mayoress of Thornaby at that time. I was in charge of Music at my school and had my own choir.. Regards Sandra


  5. You were a year or two on front of me Michael, so I remember all the teachers who signed your report and of course Mr Irvin the headmaster, he wasn’t a bad old stick. I enjoyed my time at Robby Ack, good teachers and good classmates who I still meet with to this day on occasion.

    I also remember you being a member of 10th Teesside Boys Brigade on Eldon St. With the Drinkell family all involved

    Liked by 1 person

        • I can remember his name, Mr Brooks, Swainston taught woodwork. Mr Brooks was an interesting man, been in the Navy during the war, always told us he witnessed the sinking off HMS Hood


      • If he is the same as when I was there. The same time as Sandra 1962- 67 it was Mr. Norris Brooke and his favourite saying was “come and shake hands with Charlie” his well worn ruler.
        Mr. Swainston was the woodwork teacher who also taught my mam.


      • Mr Brooks Was science teacher, “Swagger” Swainston was the woodwork teacher and Mr Ramsbottom was metalwork teacher


        • Come on Griff, Ramshaw was metalwork wasn’t he, didn’t he leave to go to the Grange, he used a 6mm length of steel rod to whip your bum, me and P Riley can vouch for that.


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