Billingham South Modern Staff c1951

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.

14 thoughts on “Billingham South Modern Staff c1951

  1. My mum, Joyce Burns, arrived on the staff at Billy South about a year later. I remember several of these teachers as neighbours, as we – and they – lived in Parklands Avenue, alias “Teachers Alley”. Eric Davidson was a lovely guy who had been wounded at the Somme; I think he rode a motorbike at some point? Muriel Dodd became a great friend of my mother’s and was a regular visitor to our house. It’s great to see a photo of her as apparently she hated having her picture taken and used to avoid school photos at all costs. I still have her musical box that I was given as a remembrance when she died, (in about 1967).


  2. Hi I went to Billingham South Modern form 1947 to 1957. My favourite teacher was Miss Wood, she let me go and do her shopping at the Coop in Station Road as I was always finished before everyone else. I remember the art teacher, as the other reader said we had to draw a house with a person. I drew our street with people walking down the path. She pulled me out to the front of the class and told me to put my head under the door, when I said I couldn’t she asked me why I had drawn people under the railing. I was mortified. The needlework teacher wasn’t any better as we had to make summer dresses and pay for them afterwards, she was always asking me where my money was. My parents didn’t want to pay. We had to make tacking stitches that were exactly 2 inches apart and if they weren’t you had to take them all back out. I still can’t sew. The only other teacher that I liked was the history teacher. I really enjoyed that, but didn’t enjoy school at all, was glad to leave.


  3. I can remember some old class mates, Ploger Polsen, Alan, “Pud” Wrightson, Brian Matthews, Peter Pallister, Gillian Lawrence, Dougie Ward, Billy Wright, Billy Yates, Kathleen Guthrie, Diane Armstrong (Believe she married Willie Madden), (Jeff Lake, Malcolm Daly and a Girl from Greatham) Short time in Class Marcia Crinson!!


  4. I remember all but the one you left blank. Chapman, who later became Head Master gave me 6 of the best and, didn’t hold back. As someone mentioned, Miss Daugherty (who later became Mrs. Peret) was absolutely gorgeous. When I left school, Faraday Hall, in 1963, she invited our whole class over to her house. Mike Bennington (Benny) & I were the only ones who went.


  5. Thanks for posting this Bruce. I went to Billingham South Modern from 1950 until 1954 when my family emigrated to Canada. I remember many of these teachers, Miss Wood taught English and as a disciplinarian she was relatively mild. Mr Caygill taught history I remember the room being in the corner of the quadrangle. I ended up being in 4A with Major Dudley Chapman as the science teacher. He lived in the same street as us, West Avenue. One year I had a music teacher but I don’t know if he is on the photograph. The math teacher I think was Miss Dodd once read out our names backwards resulting in Brown Margaret and Smart Dorothy she was a harsh disciplinarian.
    One teacher I did not like was the Art Mistress. She would sarcastically call you Blossom, if you could draw you were ok otherwise you were ignored. I have corresponded at various times over the years with Bill Charton who was at this school in the early 50’s. I had a passion when young for fishing and spent many years on the River Tees with a classmate Keith Coppick such great childhood memories! Does anyone have a photograph of the 1954 4A class?


    • Hello Derek

      I have 19 photos of classes from the South Modern, nearly all taken in the 1950s, I have uploaded them to Microsoft One Drive, click on this link and you can download them.!Ajpj0BgkXQUQgydSFGVfA5Nv7t7e?e=KPWe4H

      Some of them have already appeared on the Picture Stockton site, others will be new to you.

      You mentioned West Avenue, both my aunt, who supplied the photo, and her brother David both lived in West Avenue in the 1970s.

      I have included a photo of West Avenue taken in the 1930s in the download folder.

      If you are wary of downloading the photos then contact me directly on:

      and I will send them by email.

      These photos are available to anybody that wants to download them.


  6. In the 1940’s we all knew our place there was none of this “you can be anything you want to be” rife in todays education which often ends in disillusion. Girls were deemed to be Mothers Housewives and homemakers, men blue collar workers Fathers and wage earners. If you passed the 11+ exam and your parents could afford Uniforms, Books Sports Kit then you went on to a High School mainly Academic to be white collar workers. In 1941-2 the Engineering firms said they wanted Engineers coming out of the schools and so we had change from Academic to Engineering classes. Not all took kindly to this Parents objected, engineering was dirty and dangerous thus those of us who jumped at the chance were in classes of 18 or less where as the academic classes were 30+ and my class ended up four years later with only 14, our teachers taking time with all of us not just a few bright ones.
    The Girls next door were taught to be Homemakers Secretaries and some to go on to Teaching then deemed to be Ok for Girls, that was the way of things and those being taught were not encouraged to have opinions or question what our why we did things that way.

    Freda says they were sent to the National Restaurant for meals I do know from experience there was a Potato shortage in 1942-3-4, we had to have School meals as it was a two bus ride home and back for most so we got potato’s on two or three days and boiled rice for the rest. The rice was boiled until it was a grey gluey mess you could have stuck wall paper on with it, I hated it and still do apart from Mum’s rice pudding. I was accused of losing the war all on my own when i would not even have it on my plate, it cost me a couple of canings but they got tired of that before i did. Freda’s Restaurant may have more food than the School cooks, only a guess but when as an apprentice in later years having lunch in the British Restaurant Alma Street we certainly got a plate full.
    It is a blessing things changed mainly by the women and girls doing war work, working machines of all kinds, and everything from ammunitions, planes tanks guns to Farming and Logging, from their skills came todays freedoms for women to reach for the sky, of course they need to break a few glass ceilings on the way.
    They were dubbed the good old days, I wonder what my Great Grandchildren will call today.


  7. I am at a lost to identify the exact position that that this Building occupied in the Stockton High Street. Can anyone help me in this puzzle..


  8. Hi Bruce, many thanks for the photo, brought back some memories of Billingham South and Faraday Hall, Campus. BSM 1954 til 1962, Faraday 63 – 64.
    I’ve been gone a long time since then, and have since lived and worked in 7 different countries. I currently live in Germany.
    I was in Class L1 at the Campus, I rememeber the Classes being L1 & L2, L 2 did things like Bookkeeping, Typing, Cooking, etc, even some Boys did it and L1 was more techniclal, Tech drawing, can’t remember now who the teacher was, Woodwork, Alan Teasdale, History, Mr. ?? PE, Mr. ??
    Miss Dent was my maths teacher most of the time, remember she took her old desk with her to the Campus School from BSM. Sometimes had Mr. Wilkinson for maths too. Miss Dodd was my English teacher, Freddie Laws was the science teacher, Norman Coates taught metalwork. Dougie Chapman was the Headmaster at Faraday Hall.

    Couple of others from BSM & Faraday were Mr. McClelland Geography, Mr. Gillespie French, and of course Ms. Docherty the Art teacher, I remember having absolutely no interest in Art (still don’t) but never missed a class, she was my first pin-up Girl!!


    • HI Norman I remember the name but sorry my memory banks never were very good a people and places. I remember Stan Mathews the old git I would love to have been able to punch him in the nose or kick him in the nuts for the way he caned me at every chance so I remember. I know all those names and yes Miss Docherty, all the boys in 4a loved to attend her class and I heard many comments from them. I dont know if there was any promiscuity but she certainly was a jaw dropping looker. Miss Dent was our home room teacher in the “Huts” all my siblings went through billie south I think my brother would have been the only one to go to the campus school he was 5 years younger than me. Not a good time in my life, I wish I could go back and talk to my younger self but…


    • Hi Norman
      I went to BSM infants, junior and two years senior before we all moved to Faraday Hall. I remember you (think you had a brother David) the year below and most of the names you mentioned, Eric Polson, Alan Wrightson.
      Kath Guthrie and Diane Armstrong lived around the corner from me (Diane Armstrong did marry Willie Maddren) I was best man for Peter Pallister when he married in 1970 but he left for South Africa soon after and we lost contact.
      Some of the ex teachers; Jack Gilliland taught french and took us for basketball after school.
      I think Mr Millroy was the history teacher.
      Teasedale was woodwork but died in 2010, of asbestos’s and won a claim against the local authority because asbestos was found in the school. Fergus McClelland took us at BSM for geography, he has died recently.
      Alan Medd took us for geography at Faraday, he is serving a 15 year prison sentence for offences with children.
      The music teacher was Tom Colman who I am sure you will not have forgotten.
      I see you and Dereck mentioned Mrs Peret, when I left school, I started work as an apprentice gasfitter and with my supervisor fitted some gas appliances in her house in Fairfield.
      Bill Yates


    • Hi Norman, I went to BSM, Infants, Junior and first two years in Senior school before moving over to Faraday Hall.
      I remember you from Junior and Senior school, i think you had a younger brother David who went to both schools.
      Recognise names of our classmates, Eric Polsen, Alan Wrightson, Peter Pallister. Kath Guthrie and Diane Armstrong lived near me in Tibbersley Avenue. Diane did marry Willie Maddren
      I was best man at Peter’s wedding in 1970, he moved to South Africa the same year and we lost touch. The teachers I remember;
      Jack Gilliland who taught French. He also introduced some of us to Basketball which we carried on playing for The Stockton Billingham Tech. College when we left school.
      Mr Teasdale woodwork, he died in 2010 of asbestosis, his next of kin won a legal case saying it was due to asbestos being present in Faraday Hall.
      Fergus McClelland geography for two years at BSM (he has died earlier this year)
      We then had Alan Medd for geography at Faraday for the last two years. He is currently serving a 15 year prison sentence.
      Tom Colman music teacher, I don’t think you will have forgotten him.
      I think Mr Millroy was our history teacher.
      Miss Wood was our english teacher.
      Bill Yates


  9. Although I didn’t go to Billingham South I recognised the names of my times at the Campus, particularly “Fanny Fletcher”


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