I started school (Billingham Intermediate School) in September 1942. There were three intake and leaving times in the school year. The new school term started in the Autumn, any child who reached their fifth birthday before the end of the term started school during that term. The Winter term started after the Christmas holidays and continued until the Easter Holidays, the last term ran from the end of the Easter Holidays until the start of the long Summer holidays. I don’t remember anything of my first day at school but I do know my teacher was a Miss Keep, she was still there as headmistress when my eldest son started at the school in September 1968.
The children came from a very large area, even as far as Trimdon, Greatham and Sedgefield, they came by normal service buses and when they got off at the Green they had to race to get to school on time, this worked fine in the warmer weather but in the Winter it was not unusual to have them arrive as late as 10:30, these children were allowed to leave an hour earlier than the local children so they could catch their buses and get home safely.
Another thing that comes to mind is the whole class walking to the Green area and having our lunch in the British Civic Restaurant, which was next to the Methodist Central Hall, why we did this I don’t know as there were school dinners available within the school, I do remember having my dinner in the school whilst sitting at my desk, once again I don’t know why. We spent time (girls only) in ‘The Flat’ in the school to learn cooking and ‘Washing’, we had to take a handkerchief and a sock and we were taught how to wash and iron them, to this day I can still remember how to iron a sock but have never done it since leaving school.We also cooked a main meal and invited our favourite teachers to share it with us. – Freda McCorkell, nee Leek
I too was at the South Modern from September 1957 until July 1958 before moving the new Stephenson Hall school on the Billingham Campus site.Mr Martindale (Head), Mr Laws, Miss Dent, Miss Wood, Miss Fletcher, Mr Cowperthwaite and Mr Wilkinson were still teaching while I was there, the latter three came to the Campus when we went there.I mentioned to my aunt that Miss Fletcher, the art mistress, had a wonderful way of sorting the wheat from the chaff, our first lesson with her we were asked to draw a person and a house, she took one look at my effort and that was it, she never spoke to me or any other of the no hopers for the rest of our time at school, our weekly art lesson was a double period of sitting in silence while leafing through back issues of
Country Life, my aunt suffered the same fate but without the benefit of the Country Life magazine, admittedly those with artistic talents were encouraged all the way.My late friend Brian Storey thought the un-named teacher was a Mr Milburn. – Bruce Coleman
I have posted this on behalf of my aunt, Freda McCorkell, nee Leek. Courtesy of Bruce Coleman.