Northallerton Schools

Today we learn that most Northallerton Schools are ‘Good’, (this post was written in early 2016) there are a few old school photos and there’s an anecdote or two. Enjoy…


We meet outside the old site of the week Grammar School on the corner of the High Street near All Saints Church and now the premises of Plaice, Blair and Hatch.

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Northallerton Grammar School 1928

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It’s hard to believe that our local school/college was founded in 1323 and has educated our children since then. I’m not sure where the original premises were before the site that is now Place, Blair and Hatch but the institution has certainly stood the test of time, maybe you, dear reader, will be able to shed some light on it.
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There was a minor hiccup at the end of the 19th century when it very nearly went out of existence due to a drop in numbers. Having survived that it moved to the premises on Grammar School Lane in 1909 when they began building the Titanic and “By The Light Of The Silvery Moon” was being sung by – Billy Murray.
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Through the 20th century, it successfully morphed as the governors and staff responded to the whims of various government ministers. It remained a selective grammar school until 1973 when Dawn replete with Tony Orlando encouraged us to, “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree” apparently someone had been in jail and didn’t know if they’d be welcome back home, it turned out they were! Unlike Dawn, Peters and Lee were offering an unconditional “Welcome Home”.
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It then became a comprehensive school up to the present. In 1994 the governors changed the name to Northallerton College; however, before that, there was a wonderful irony in that every student leaving school in Northallerton was taught in a ‘comprehensive’ system but actually graduated from ‘The Grammar School’!
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We walk along the High Street to Market Row, now locally known as Barkers’ Arcade and emerge at the Applegarth Park. After another 50 yards or so to the left we stop at the dedication to King George VI which proclaims the row of Purple Beech Trees were planted in commemoration of his coronation. I have a vivid memory of climbing into one when I was very young and getting a bollocking from PC Barningham, a wonderful copper that we all feared and respected in equal measure. He told me to get out of the tree because I would damage it. I was reluctant because I thought I’d get a clip around the ear but eventually conceded. Barnie waited until I’d got my feet on solid ground then gave me a clip and told me not to do it again. To this day I’m sure he was smiling! I was careful not to climb them again – at least, not when he was about. He was more than a good cop, he was a gentleman who later became the community policeman in Osmotherley where I saw him many times as an adult and my respect for him remains undiminished (RIP Barnie). Russ Conway was playing “Side Saddle”
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I’m looking down the row of these wonderful trees. They’re in a bare state now but majestic in summer with their deep red and very dense foliage. It’s winter and their unadorned state makes it easy to see what we now call The “Sporties” Pub. It has been at various times, a slaughterhouse and before that, ex-Theatre Royal. It is thought that for a brief period this was the site of another School Room around the middle of the 19th c. but it may well have been the premises that are adjacent and still used as a community meeting hall and religious building.
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Returning along the path and diagonally across the grass adjacent to a delightful play area the church clock is visible and the bells are chiming the quarter-hour. The Council has really excelled with the facilities here in the Applegarth but there is a necessity for more green space for recreation for a town of this size. We walk past my old school.
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The Applegarth School was built when Baden-Powel published “Scouting for Boys” and the industrious Billy Murrey was singing about “No Moon Like the Honeymoon” and Frank Stanley insisting “Any Old Port in a Storm”.
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In all aspects, OFSTED said that Applegarth is a GOOD school.
The number on the roll at last inspection was 255.
 
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It was built in 1909 but only after some dispute regarding siting. The toss-up was between a nondenominational school at Springwell Lane or building an annex to the C of E National School on East Road so a ballot was held that resulted in Springwell Lane with 365 votes and East Road 354!
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I have visions of boys playing hide and seek, tigs on high, cowboys and indians. There was always a ritual before the games could start.
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Each prospective participant would hold our their clenched fists and the organiser would chant:
One potato, two potato, three potato, four… Five potato, six potato, seven potato, more… at the call of each of the numbers, he would hit one of the clenched fists of the prospective participant and the one that was hit at the chant of “more” would be put behind the owner’s back. The whole process was then repeated until there was only one fist left. The owner of that fist would be “on” and the rest would disperse according to the rules of whatever game had been chosen.
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We also played “Trains”. This was quite innocuous to start but became ‘interesting’ as whole snakes of children linked themselves together by putting their hands on the shoulders of the person in front. They usually started with just two or three boys and it would increase like a traffic jam on a winding country lane as new bodies joined at the back. The whole procession would then wriggle and swerve around the playground until the tail would whiplash bodies when the curvature of the unit became too much for the unlucky few that had been the last to latch on to the back.
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Little girls would be skipping. Sometimes they’d tie two ropes together and a girl at either end would swing the resultant long rope with one, two and sometimes three girls skipping in the middle. I can hear their chants in my head:
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“Apples, peaches, pears and plums Tell me when your birthday comes… Then they’d chant the months of the year a short pause after each and the girls would hop either on or off the rope on their month. There were other chants too but I need a bit of a nudge to remember them.”
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Applegarth c 1960

 
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We walk to the top of Upwell Road and turn left towards town arriving at the crossroads and mini-roundabout outside Yorkshire Cancer. Looking left I can see Bews’ Furniture Store. This used to be Northallerton Rugby Club and before that, Northallerton Working Mens Club but here’s the interesting bit. I believe that Samuel Jacksons School was here in the 19th c. If anyone can corroborate this I’d appreciate it. It was here that my Uncle Bill and his brothers were educated along with other men of note including, I believe, Leslie Barker.
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Turning right off Romanby Road we walk past the old mart and take the short alley from Ivy Cottages to South Parade and turn right. There were several private schools on South Parade including Lords School and Miss Nelson’s. I’m not sure where Lords School was but we pass Essex Lodge which is purported to be the site of Miss Nelson’s Private School. Colin Narramore, in his book “Northallerton in Old Picture Postcards” records that about 20 boys and girls were taught there.
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We cross the road at the roundabout and walk down Mill Lane intersecting with Ainderby Road at the railway crossing. Having passed the Golden Lion the clock is in view. Nearby, on the left, the old Romanby School stood on the site opposite the church. It had a good run between 1874 and 1953. It was said at the time of the opening that it had taken considerable pressure off the National School on East Road in Northallerton.
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The next half mile or so is directly along Ainderby Road then we turn left through an alley on to The Close and follow this past the new Romanby School.
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Romanby School was opened in 1953 when Lita Roza was asking, “How Much is That Doggie in the Window” and Guy Mitchell shared a secret, “She Wears Red Feathers” (racy times!).
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Miss Stella Lawson was the first head. In all aspects, OFSTED said Romanby School is a GOOD school. There were 255 on the roll at the last inspection. Please feel free to add any anecdotes in the comments.
 
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Over the road is the Women’s Institute building. I stare at this with a mixture of pride and fear as I remember playing in the brass band there over 50 years ago. I remember the apprehension as we assembled on stage and the ladies of the institute gathered in the hall.

Our bandmaster and Geography teacher, Dave Nicol was meeting some of the ladies in the main hall and we were taking the opportunity of a quick cigarette (yes – I know – but we did!) Dave came back a little earlier than expected and I’d just taken a huge drag off the ciggy. I was playing a huge ‘double bb flat base (tuba)’ at the time and for want of a better place to put it, I threw the ciggy into the bell and blew the smoke from my mouth into the mouthpiece hoping that he wouldn’t notice the smell as there were plenty of adults smoking outside. The instrument consisted of twenty feet of tubes so the first few bars of Il Silencio (The Silence) were fine and the base section came in late anyway but after about a minute the evidence of my misdemeanour came gently drifting out of the bell. I’m not sure that it was obvious to the ladies in the audience and they were far too polite to point or comment but at close quarters it was like a scene from a Dali painting with wisps of smoke emanating from a bizarre source.

I don’t remember the actual performance, that’s gone completely from my mind but I do remember the pride when we’d finished. I think we did a good job because the applause went on for some time.

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Womens Institute.
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Allertonshire School Brass Band
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At the end of The Close, we turn left and then right on to the Fairway and at the end, we turn left on to Boroughbridge Road walking across the railway crossing and under the Northallerton Station Bridge. Immediately after the bridge is a lane and we turn right onto that then follow our map past a playing area until we reach an alley that runs along the back of the houses on Willow Road with Broomfield School on our right.
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Broomfield School was built in 1973 when Donny Osmond was crooning “Young Love” and Carly Simon was purportedly raging about her ex., Warren Beaty informing him, “You’re So Vain”, there’s no fury like a woman scorned! Mr M. B. Everington was the first head.
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In all aspects, OFSTED said Broomfield School is a GOOD school.
Pupils on the roll at last inspection 241.
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On the same site is The Sacred Heart RC School opened in 2000 when The Baha Men were asking, “Who Let The Dogs Out” and Eminem told us the story of “The Real Slim Shady”.
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In all aspects, OFSTED said The Sacred Heart RC School is a GOOD School. Pupils on the roll at last inspection 78.
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Despite the school name, it actually attracts pupils of other denominations too.
 
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We turn right on Broomfield Avenue and walk to the end then through an alley on to what’s locally known as Vatican City. We follow St James’ Drive to Thirsk Road then across onto South Vale, Mill Hill Lane then into Colstan Road where the Grammar School Lane element of “Northallerton School” now stands. This is the site of the Grammar School and has changed quite a lot since those days.
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At the intersection of Crosby Road, we turn left and Mill Hill School is on the left.
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Mill Hill School was built in 1956 when Doris Day was practising her Spanish, “Que, Sera, Sera (What will be will be)” and Johnny Ray was “Walking in The Rain”.
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In all aspects, OFSTED said Mill Hill School is a GOOD school.
The number on roll at last inspection 156.
 
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Mill Hill School had celebrated its diamond jubilee with various events. They had a successful staff reunion at the end of January and had organised a Through the Decades quiz on March 17th then a dance through the decades on April 22 at the rugby club with a live band. On June 17th they had their Summer Fair from 1 until 5 when they were opening the time capsule from the silver jubilee.
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.Mill Hill School – late 1950’s

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We can see the prison in the distance and it too had a school. In 1851 there was a Prison School apparently with a roll of 28 boys and 11 girls. There are two positives here. Number one is the very progressive thought that ‘fallen’ children or the offspring of adults deemed to be worthless were worthy of education and the second that 11 ‘mere’ girls would be worth educating! My mother was extremely intelligent and won a scholarship to grammar school in the 1930s but was not allowed to go as it was ‘a waste of money for women to be educated to that level!’ As a man who has spent a lifetime in and around education, I am saddened at this. The real worry; however, is that I see the same deplorable attitude in some communities even now, I leave you with your own thoughts!
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We turn and walk along Greenhousyke Lane then a quick right and left and up Ashlands winding our way through to Bullamoor Road. Immediately across from us is Alverton School.
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Bullamoor School was opened in 1968 when Mary Hopkin was reminiscing about “Those Were The Days” and Gary Pucket and the Union Gap were worrying about the age of an admirer, “Young Girl”.
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Alverton Community School is the result of the merger of Alverton and Bullamoor Schools in 2014. Although not long ago, in the interests of consistency the hits were OneRepublic with “Counting Stars” and One Direction with “Story of My Life”
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In all aspects, OFSTED said this is a GOOD school.
The number on roll at last inspection 210. Anecdotes welcome.
 
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There are two options here. We can turn right and then left through Scholla View and the alleys that skirt the two sites of Alverton School or left then right along Meadow Lane. We’d walked the alleys route a couple of weeks ago so opt for Meadow Lane and out on to Turker Lane. We do a left turn and after a couple of hundred yards we’re adjacent to what was the Allertonshire School and now is the northern site of ‘Northallerton School and College’.
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The sight of this brings back memories of smoking in the library cupboard. This was a walk-in type cupboard about the size of a garden shed and packed with class sets of books that would be handed out at the beginning of a lesson and collected in again at the end. What we didn’t know was that the heating vent sucked air from that area into the classrooms adjacent to it and that included the library. When we came out, the cupboard was completely clear but the adjoining rooms looked like a 1950’s London pea-souper. We didn’t get caught on that occasion but there would be time…
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I also remember for a short period being bullied daily. The routine was that I would be grabbed by the lapels and bounced against the gym wall with the bully’s face inches from mine and uttering dark threats. After a few days of this, I lost my temper and beat the individual so hard that his eye became swollen shut and his nose began to bleed profusely. I was alarmed but kept hitting him because, by now, I didn’t care. Norman ‘Digby’ Boyer, a real disciplinarian arrived on the scene and barked (he always spoke at volume in the playground), “I think he’s had enough”. I thought I was in for the cane but it turned out he’d been watching what had happened and thought the outcome was appropriate. The ‘bully’ met me the following day at the gate and I thought I was in for some real trouble but he whispered, “I’ll look after you” and “You needn’t be afraid of them bullies ‘cos I’ll protect you!”. I’m baffled to this day as to who ‘them bullies’ were as he was the only one that had been behaving that way but I really didn’t care because I could go to school without fear. I still see him now, 50 years later. He became nothing and recently retired from that role and whilst I don’t retain any animosity towards him I still feel slightly ashamed of the incident even though I do think it resolved the issue.
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There were good times too. As a member of the brass band and also the violin group we got to be able to practice in-doors and during some of those winters, especially 1963, that was a real perk. We would tour the local old-folks estates at Christmas playing carols and quite often they’d come to the door to offer us small change thinking we were collecting for something; however, that was not the reason we were there and nothing was ever accepted. Dave Nichol had arranged it as a treat for them for no other reason than it gave him (and us) considerable pleasure knowing that we contributed to their Christmas.
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Dave Nichol and Tom Watson were my favourite teachers. Mr Nichol because he taught Geography with a natural enthusiasm that washed over us all. He also encouraged us to ask questions, explore themes and think for ourselves. In his (and our) ‘spare time’ he taught us the skills that were necessary to be a part of a tight team that produced such wonderful music in the brass band.
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Mr Watson was special because his subject was History but he taught me more about English than I’d picked up elsewhere. He helped me understand how to make a sentence come alive with adjectives and adverbs without having to know that the word that had transformed the sentence was called an ‘adverb’ or ‘adjective’. He also breathed life into History through his spirited enthusiasm and speed, he was the fastest reader I’ve ever known, there was never any chance of boredom. There were others of course but none stood out like these. Thank you both.
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Now here’s a little anecdote, well, yes, OK, another one. One of the last people I shook hands with as I left school in 1966 was Bill Humphrey. Little did I know that the next time I would see him would be in the middle of the North Yorkshire Moors on the Cleveland Way 50 years later. I still can’t believe the coincidence of our two groups being in the same place in the middle of nowhere and bumping into each other. I’m indebted to George Renwick who recognised him and called me back.
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In 2014 Northallerton College had a poor OFSTED report. The Allertonshire School; however, was deemed GOOD in every aspect and a decision was made to merge the two.

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In 2015 the merger took place and was given the name, “Northallerton School and College”. It is consistent in as much as Thirsk, Richmond and Stokesley have similarly boring names and as it is largely sited in Northallerton it may be argued that its name is eminently descriptive but it will always be open to some wag prefixing it with an indefinite article. I’ve never been in favour of merging good with bad, the result has a tendency to the negative but time will tell.
 
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Allertonshire c 1963

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We turn left off Turker Lane and follow Brompton Road towards town. Opposite Asda are several cottages called Friarage Terrace. This was variously ‘The British and Foreign School’ or just ‘The British School’ depending on what source you’re reading. It was opened in 1844 in what were farm buildings. It only lasted 15 years then the buildings reverted to agricultural use and became a corn warehouse. Apparently, ‘the system of instruction did not meet with public sympathy’!
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The British and Foreign School c 1844 to c 1860.

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We’re left again across the front of KwikFit and cross the road on to East Road.
East Road School has had a presence according to plaques ambiguously declaring it to be established in 1842 or 1843. It initially catered for children through to 11 years old but eventually, Applegarth and Mill Hill acted as feeder schools for children over 8 and they were educated there until they were 11.
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East Road School c 1958

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We continue to Elder Road and make our way to the Black Bull.
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The Black Bull, like The Standard, delivers an excellent meal even though I try to trip the waitress as she emerges from the kitchen (sorry). In fairness, she takes it in good grace with a smile and returns to the kitchen to replenish whatever it was that vacated the bowl she was carrying.
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The walk is slightly over 5 miles, it is flattish, easy-going, probably doable in a wheelchair but may require a reccie around the bit that skirts County Hall just under the Station Railway bridge. It would be nice to add to my dialogue here to make each school more interesting and I’m happy to add it if you put your anecdotes in the comments. You’re also welcome to challenge any of the dates and other assertions that I’ve made, this isn’t an academic work. It is multi-sourced but not cross referenced…G…x
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Acknowledgements: Paul Crystal; Mark Sanderson; Phoebe Newton; Colin Narramore; Mary Thompson; George Renwick and OFSTED.
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NB 1: I have included some history where I could but all schools in Northallerton seem to keep their history a closely guarded secret. I really would like to see a page on each of their websites that gives an indication of their establishment and subsequent life. I’d also like to see them celebrating past pupils that have done well and any links that they may have. Perhaps there’s a project or two for the youngsters?
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NB 2: It is also clear that all schools but one are deemed GOOD by OFSTED. This is a remarkable achievement. Unless you’re involved in education you’ll never know the stress and workload of teachers, support staff and managers on a daily basis. When inspection happens all of these are amplified by an incredible degree and coming back from a poor inspection is a huge deal but doable.
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If you’re a parent, please support your school, it’s the biggest investment in your child’s future that you’ll ever make…G.
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Here is the route:
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7 thoughts on “Northallerton Schools”

  1. I really enjoyed reading about this walk. As a relative newcomer (20years) it was really interesting to know there were once so many schools.

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    • Thanks so much Julie. We do a lot of walking, usually on the moors but I’d just had an operation so we needed a couple of walks on the flat and in town for me to recuperate and it turned out to be really interesting when I did the background stuff in the library and talked to a few more knowledgable than me.

      If you follow the page http://www.facebook.com/yorkshireramblings it’ll trigger a notification when new posts are added (you can ‘unfollow’ at any time). I do tend to add any anecdotes in as they crop up from my walking companions or enter my head so sometimes it’s a bit rude but it’s all in good fun.

      Thank you for taking the trouble to respond, it’s much appreciated.

      Kind regards,

      George

      Reply
  2. Thank you for the mention, though I can’t recall what I wrote now! I do remember taking a picture of the back of what is now Friarage Terrace. I believe Willoughbys were working on it at the time. It looked rather different 34 years ago.
    Jennifer Allison has confirmed that Bews’ Furniture Store used to be Samuel Jackson’s School. I have an old exercise book, loaned to me by John Mortimer. It was owned by Benjamin Peacock at “Mr Jackson’s Classical, Mathematical and Commercial Academy, Northallerton” in 1874. It contains made-up accounts and invoices, but with some local names from that time (e.g. Clidero, Clapham, Smithson, Wilford, Foggitt )
    You mentioned Miss Nelson’s private school. I wonder if it would be where Miss Joyce Peacock used to help when she was a young woman in the 1920s. There might not be many people who still remember it, but Miss Lord’s School was probably on South Parade in living memory. I’ll enquire.

    Thanks very much for an interesting article.

    Regards,
    Phoebe Newton

    Reply
  3. Mrs Lord’s School, ‘Wensley House’, at 20 South Parade, a double-fronted, white-stone house was, as one could read on the cream stone gateposts, a ‘Kindergarten and Preparatory School’. I was there in1939. My father, born in 1880, attended Sammy Jackson’s school. The Benjamin (Benny) Peacock mentioned, was probably Miss Joyce Peacock’s father. Before he took ill and she returned home, which was two or three doors away from ‘Wensley House’, she had been a nursery governess to children from titled families, and then ran her own school from home in the late 1930s until the early 1950s I suppose. I do not know whether or not ‘home’ had formerly been Miss Nelson’s house. A very gentle person, Joyce was an intelligent lady, if somewhat eccentric, and a life-long friend of my mother’s. In late middle age she attended evening service at Romanby church where she took down the sermon in shorthand. On her way home she would pop in to see my parents and effortlessy read it back to them. This was appreciated, for my father was ill for years and could not be left alone. As well as this, she had kept diaries for decades, also in shorthand, and would announce which year they were going to hear about the following week rather than that evening’s sermon. A seasoned traveller she took inexpensive holidays on cargo boats which then catered for a few passengers. During her last trip in 1947, because of engine trouble the boat had to undergo repairs, and she found herself stranded in Turkey and rather frightened. Thereafter she stayed put in Northallerton.

    Reply
    • I was very interested to read Kathlyn Vincent’s comments. I think my reply must be going to Yorkshire Ramblings and not directly to her, but would like to thank her for shedding fresh light on Joyce Peacock’s life. I was very fond of Joyce, whom I first knew through her visits to the County Library Headquarters on Grammar School Lane. Later on I used to take her library books and spent many happy hours chatting to her, sometimes sitting in her rather overgrown garden, which I seem to remember was rather taken over by brambles and Himalayan balsam. A few years ago I was loaned some of her diaries from the 1920’s. I know she mentioned working at a school with Miss Lucy in 1924, but I’m not sure whether that was Miss Lord or Miss Nelson. The oldest children at the school were only eight.

      Joyce was already practising her shorthand by taking down sermons, but doubted her own proficiency. How kind she was to read them back to Kathlyn’s parents. I wonder when that would have been.

      She did sometimes talk to me about her travels, mentioning how one captain used to allow her to dry her smalls on the bridge! She used to show her nursery school pupils little toys she had brought back from exotic places. One of the perishable things she was excited to take home was a whole hand of bananas, so I think she must have visited the Caribbean.

      The diaries that I have seen are mostly written in longhand, with occasional passages in shorthand. She was obviously a clever and imaginative young lady, but sounded quite ingenuous and young for her age.

      Reply
  4. Dear Kathlyn and Phoebe,

    Thank you so much for adding your wonderful memories. We will be doing some more urban walking in the future, God willing, and I’ll be spending some more time researching to try to bring it alive. I’ll send you a note when it’s published.

    Once again, many, many thanks; your contributions are so much appreciated.

    Kind regards,

    George

    Reply

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