Alan Stephenson (1961-1968) reminisces:
Earliest First Year memories include being lined up in the Quad, probably on our first day, to be addressed on School Traditions by Hitler Henderson, of all people. He marched (Goose-stepped?) along the row delivering his "Heaton Expects" speech. An auspicious start to school life.
Other First Year memories include the early morning swimming lessons at Chilly Road Baths presided over by Ken Quickfall, The Nicotine King - and our Dinner Time adventures.
When we started there was no dining hall or kitchens. The old gym was still in the process of conversion. We had the choice of the march down to Ravensworth to share dining facilities there - or the more alluring adventure of fending for ourselves in the Dene Café or at the Cragside shops.
The Dene Café would sell you a cup of soup, a slice of bread, and a single (illegal) Embassy for your shilling but at the Cragside shops, at Kelsey's Bakery, you could buy, along with pies & pasties, a wonderful selection of yesterday's stale cream cakes & sticky buns at 1d. each. Ravensworth School dinners had no chance.
We ate this gut-rot in Paddy Freeman's - also of fond memory.
It is the winter scenes I remember best. Arriving on the No. 4 bus from Kenton, to find the lake frozen over and walking out onto ice the thickness and clarity of plate glass. It was so clear you could see every branch, twig and dead leaf deposited on the bottom of Paddy's pond. It was winter-wonderland stuff.
The following year, as 2R, we were waiting for our maths lesson to begin when this young lad, who we took to be a Prefect, walked in. It was Tom Cressey starting his stint at the Chalkface. I'm afraid we gave him a bad time. Some of the lads gained the ascendancy over him and lessons were rowdy for the whole year. It was bad.
We returned as 3R to find we had him for Chemistry. He landed on us like a ton of bricks. All rebellion was crushed within the first lesson and after that there was no more nonsense.
He taught us for Chemistry for the next few years, first as Zeke's understudy, then as his successor. He was a grand teacher and his organised methods got me through A level Chemistry with the minimum of revision. His lessons had already done all the hard work.
You will remember Zeke Paterson, another character. His chemistry lessons, his jokes (acetylene horses!), his Open Day demonstration experiments, and his stately drive to school in his little car. I think he had read somewhere that the human body disintegrated into its constituent atoms if a car ever went over 35mph. He made certain it never happened to him.
The Great Cricket Match scandal happened in 1966. We were in 5R. It was a Masters v Boys, or something like that. The Masters were in the field and a group of us were watching from by the longjump sandpits. One of our number noticed a certain peculiarity about the wicketkeepers crouching stance - that his posture left something to be desired - and was unable to contain himself. He shouted out, in a loud voice, which carried clearly across the whole field, and was heard by everyone, "Tufty! Get your arse in."
The culprit escaped in the confusion but the rest of us were put under all sorts of pressure to name the guilty party. We were threatened (Black Marks on Record), encouraged, even cajoled, into telling who. We were interviewed together and separately. The only methods not used were the rack and the thumbscrews. It was like a scene from that Al Pacino movie "Scent of a Woman".
No one did tell - but if there is anyone out there who is still interested, the villain's name could now be revealed over the Internet. I reckon after 33 year the Statute of Limitations should have expired.
The "Day the roof blew off" must have been in the winter of 67/68. A mini tornado hit High Heaton overnight, cutting a swathe of structural damage. Chimney stacks were blown through house roofs on Newton Road and in the school the whole outer layer of bricks from the south wall of the new Gym was blown out, reduced to rubble. This could have been deadly if it had happened in school time.
The tornado also lifted a huge section of the science block roof. It lifted it like the lid off a box and carried it halfway to Newton Road, dropping the roof in the middle of the girls' hockey field. We arrived to find the Upper 6th Science classroom open to the elements. We spent the rest of that winter housed in the cricket pavilion. I cannot remember how long the repairs took.