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Q - R

Ken RAILTON (1959 – 1964)

I came across your web site a few days ago and have started to read the reports by ex-pupils. Thanks for the effort of putting things together.

I was at Heaton Grammar School from 1959 to 1964 and have noticed that there are no class photos from the classes that I was in so I have attached three photos and listed the names as well. I cannot however remember what the classes were called. I remember that I was in Armstrong House but certainly did not contribute many house points to sports activities. One comment that I had to put up with was “He enjoys sport but is of no particular natural talent”!

My story? Where to start and where to finish? Long winded anecdotes might amuse some members but I don’t want to write a book here.

As it happens, my father died in my last year at school. I was fifteen. Coming from a “cloth cap” family where only the father worked, and that in a low paid job, a widow and three children had to work out how things could go forwards. I was not clever enough to go on to advanced level studies so that option was never even considered. With my few “O” Levels, I could have taken an apprenticeship at one of the shipyards as an apprentice draughtsman. It would have been a five-year apprenticeship and the pay was about three pounds and six shillings a week. For younger readers, this is not made up. Ask your grandfathers.

My brother who was seventeen joined the army to have a regular income and support us. I decided that it was not such a bad idea as I could earn two pounds two shillings and six pence a week as a boy soldier and learn a trade at the same time. At seventeen and a half I would progress to “man’s pay” which was seven pounds seventeen shillings and sixpence a week and was a fortune at the time. I passed the aptitude test which was not difficult for even a bad grammar school pupil and signed on for nine years to become a land surveyor.

Here I would like to recall the advice that “Timber Willie” would constantly drum into us. Did we also use to call him “Woodbine Willie”?? He would tell us that firms like Swan Hunter and Parsons were screaming for “bright boys” and if you got a job there, then it was a job for life. As it turns out, he was wrong but his advice was given in good faith at the time.

Good advice was also given by my English teacher, “Charlie Robbo” (Mr. Robinson) who had teaching methods that would be questionable today. I always remember him as a small man about the size of Napoleon or Adolf Hitler. I think that he also had a moustache like the latter mentioned. He would wander up and down the rows of desks as we were writing tests with his lower arm protruding from his body at an angle of ninety degrees. He would look over our shoulders to see what we were writing and as he turned to visit another pupil, he would accidentally clip us around the ear.

In my later years I have become interested in history and wish that I had paid more attention to Mr. Spink who not only taught us the date of the Battle of Hastings but tried to explain the more complex issues involved in the international politics of the time. Hal Gibson was my mathematics teacher who would organize internal class quizzes when we were good enough to cover the material that was scheduled for the day. There always seemed to be a lot of football questions. I think that he was a Newcastle United fan.
All of our teachers put a lot of effort into the subjects. If our results were not up to standard then it was down to us.

We are where we are and it is time to return to my journey through life. Military life was fun most of the time and of course you are kept fit and don’t have to worry about the basics in life. Within four and a half years I managed to get to the top of the tree as far as qualifications to become a land surveyor were concerned bearing in mind that your main mission is to grow up and save the world where necessary. The name is “Atkins”, “Tommy Atkins”!

In these four and a half years I also qualified as a “Sound Ranger” which involves locating by sound waves with a bit of meteorology thrown in. All interesting stuff but after finishing all of the exams, I never touched a theodolite again in my life. Why? The next stage.

After four and a half years I got “nail bombed” in Northern Ireland. The nails went through my leg without hitting any bones so there was no permanent damage. A short stay in a hospital in Belfast was to change my future. Here I have to mention that my hobby was skydiving.

The colonel of our regiment was visiting “his boys” who had been wounded in various incidents and to try to make things good he asked me if, after our tour was over, I would like to spend six months on detachment to the free fall training school in Bad Lippspringe, Germany. I didn’t have to think too much about that and when everyone else went on leave after the Northern Ireland tour, I headed off to the next adventure. Our colonel however was moved to a different regiment in the six months that I was on detachment. I was a name on an office board and nobody worked out that I was only supposed to be away for six months. I wasn’t a deserter, everyone knew where I was, I was being paid through the regular channels but I was having the time of my life!

So, I had signed up for nine years and spent four and a half living the life of Riley. I never wore a uniform in the four and a half years that I was there, I never did a guard duty and between the small group of instructors, rank had nothing to do with our status. Staff and students alike used first names. I made over two thousand free fall descents during my time there and almost all were paid for by the Queen. Thank you, your Majesty. The self confidence that I didn’t have at Heaton Grammar School I gained there. “There I was at ten thousand feet with nothing but a silkworm and a whip”!

My time was up and there would have been no way that I would have been blessed with such luck on anything in the future. My girlfriend (now my wife) was studying at a local university here and it was time to move on. My command of the German language at the time was limited to “Bier” and “Bratwurst” so I could survive but what was next?

I had noticed that there were quite a lot of old broken gaming machines laying around in the barracks and decided that this could be a starting point for me. I knew nothing about how the things worked but did take note of the fact that when the operator came to collect the money, he drove a Mercedes-Benz. I really had to learn the hard way and I soon worked out why there were so many broken machines laying around in the Barracks. The British Toms thought nothing about tipping the machines upside down in the hope that a few coins might drop out.

Not being a person to give up, I had built up a small business with one hundred machines in ten years. The next “change of plan” came when the monopoly organization who supplied everything to the overseas forces decided to throw out all independent operators. From one day to the next I had to try to sell a few machines a month to pay the rent.

You will notice by now that nothing was thought through in my life. I have just drifted along and taken what came my way. The next stage was also not planned, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
The Berlin Wall came down and the Eastern European market opened up. Anyone who had any money came hot footing it to central Europe with plastic bags full of cash. The casino business at the time was dominated by five major companies and they all had offices in Germany. Their problem was that they could only sell to state casinos or independent approved dealers. Contrary to general opinion, you have to be squeaky clean to work as a professional in the casino business. I was the only person available who had a trader’s license issued by the gaming board in Las Vegas. I had to fight the customers off. For thirty-five years I was the managing director of an international company. I was also the only employee so if a dog shit outside your company front door I also had to clear it up.

The few sentences that I wanted to write have turned into a few pages. Maybe I should write a book. I have worked in or visited fifty-eight countries in our world. I have stories from Tynemouth to Tokio, Byker to Bangkok, Jesmond Dene to Johannesburg and Seaton Sluice to San Francisco. My motto was always “live rich and die poor”. Dying poor is actually not so difficult so I can already be sure that I can achieve half of my goals.

Looking at the old school photos, dying is also a subject that crosses my mind. Statistically when you look at a group photo of more than 25 people as teenagers at least one of them is gone before the age of 25. It wasn’t me. It also makes a difference how they go. It must be better to be shot by a jealous husband than to fall off your Triumph 650 Bonneville after a night out in the Club aGoGo in Percy Street (Test your memories boys).

A last anecdote before I finish. The Brain Box in my last class at Heaton Grammar School was Alfred Louvre. He was focused and knew exactly what he wanted to do in life. He wanted to be a journalist. He would nerve the teachers sometimes with his smart questions. To be a journalist however you need to ask awkward questions. I hope that he found his happiness and his peace with the world. When I would say “Good Morning” to him, he would say “you’re lying”! Sorry Alf, I know that you can take a joke.

We are all over seventy now, we have had our three score and ten years and we don’t buy long playing records anymore. If we are healthy, we are happy! Good luck everyone, we still have 18 years to go before we receive the personal letter from the Queen, King or whoever will be in charge of our great country when we get that far. I live with my wife in Paderborn, Germany and our son who is now thirty, works between Germany and Switzerland.

Jim RAND (1949-1955)

Attendance at "The School" 1949 - 1954.   Classes 1B, 2B, 3C, 4C and 5C.  Currently married to Norma (38 years in August - marriages seem to last longer in we old folks!) and living in West Sussex.

A dear friend, also a Geordie, put me in touch with your website and I've just spent a reminiscent half-hour or so browsing.

Sad to read about "Sneb" Healey; he tried hard with me but never managed to get anything startlingly musical from me.

Ken Quickfall (and the trips down to Chillingham Road baths) was another blast from the past.   Once again, his successes with me, in either the athletic or games areas, were notable only by their sparseness!   Cricket and (until one was missed) football were usually spent, along with many a break period, behind the bike sheds in various pursuits, one of which I recall was smoking sticks of cinnamon.   Quite sweet and not addictive I believe, (but don't try this at home, folks!)

My other abiding memories of the masters were "Puggy" Walker (he of the sharp rap with the ruler across the knuckles and the back of the neck, as well as the well-aimed blackboard duster) who taught (?) us english, history and art.   I hated history with a passion and clearly remember being one of at least 3 of us in the back row, cribbing from a notebook jammed with our knees underneath the desk during the weekly history test.    Then there was dear old "Sammy" Friend, allegedly shell-shocked during the war and prone to outbursts of apoplectic rage.   Sad to think of now, but hilariously funny to a teenage schoolboy.   I suppose I was lucky not to be taught by him but the occasional detention under his 'control' was never quite the serious affair it was intended to be.

"Kite" Clapperton taught us physics, but I suspect his methods wouldn't pass muster in today's educational scene.   He would set us an experiment, complete often with bunsen burners, and then retire to his back room to smoke interminable cigarettes (or was it a pipe?) emerging towards the end of the lesson to see how much of his laboratory and equipment remained unscathed.

"Timber Willie" Waldron was our long-suffering woodwork master ("Keep both hands behind the cutting edge of the tool, boy" and "Glasspaper, boy. Not sandpaper") and in my final year guided me through the intricacies of sawing, jointing, chamfering, sanding, embossing, staining and polishing until a few small pieces of oak metamorphosed into a bookrack, which my dear departed mother displayed (to my infinite embarrassment in later years) on top of her bureau to be admired (but, I suspect, more probably sneered at) by visitors.   Timber Willie did make an admirable job, though, of organising and building the scenery for the annual Gilbert & Sullivan productions.

Mr Fullarton tried to instil Geography into us but although he managed to get me through the 'O' level exam, sadly he failed (in what must admittedly have been a Herculian task, judging from my recollections of my term-end reports) to fire my imagination in his subject.   Indeed, the one thing I remember about him - and I'd be interested to know if anyone else recalls this (or whether it's a figment of my imagination) - is that he had an end of term party trick of writing two different things on two blackboards with two hands at the same time.   Very impressive if it was genuine.

Curiously, another English master we had was "Joe" English, who also taught us R.I.   Not the world's most efficient disciplinarian as I recall, but I think I must have listened to him more than I did most of our mentors because I think it was he who helped me to appreciate the pleasures of Eng. Lit. and to respect the English language.  

Unquestionably, the master for whom I retain the deepest respect and admiration - and I'm sure I'm not alone here, if only because he was also a highly respected sportsman in his own right, - was our maths master "Big Bill" Tunnicliffe.   With some masters, the class would be in uproar until the master brought it to order.   With others, silence would reign when they walked in the room.   But with "Big Bill" the class would be silent in anticipation of his march up the corridor to teach us.   We could do with a few more with his charisma and innate authority in our schools today.

French was Mr Duckenfield.   Need I say more?   Oddly, particularly in view of his name, I don't remember that we had a nickname for him.   Perhaps someone can enlighten me?   (Was it "Duckers" perhaps?)   A pity that the method of teaching languages in those days concentrated on grammar and vocabulary rather than the conversational aspect.   The result is that, like me, many of our era will have a French 'O' level certificate mouldering in a drawer somewhere, but struggle to make ourselves understood when we cross the Channel.   Ah, well: c'est la vie!

Of course, in my time, most of the masters still wore gowns; some quite respectable, others that looked as though they'd been used to clean the blackboards on a fairly regular basis.   No, I don't remember mortar boards!   But I do remember rationing, and sweet coupons being traded in the playground.   As one for whom a meal is not a meal without a pudding, and who still takes sugar in coffee and tea, I am always amazed that I was one of the ones selling rather than buying!

I, also, remember those 'partitions'.   The old full length wooden concertina windows opening out onto the drive and playing fields.   Wonderful in the summer on those few warm days when opening them could be justified - and worth every boxed ear for gazing out and dreaming of break time - but "cold as a frog on an icebound pool" (no marks for finishing the rhyme) in winter when the wind whistled through the cracks.   My lunchtimes were also spent largely at Paddy Freeman's and in Jesmond Dene, after buying a 'cob' loaf from the baker and devouring it devoid of even margarine, (cheese?, what was that?).   One summer there was a young nanny who  brought her be-prammed charge to the shelter at Paddy's and was, as I recall it, quite free with her charms for us lads.   But the winters and the frozen lake were just magic.   Ah, the challenge of jumping from the surround path, over the thin ice at the edge and onto the weight-bearing bit in the middle to make long, exhilarating slides - made adventurers of us.   I'll bet if it's still there, and they haven't drained it dry, they now put a big fence all round it when it freezes over.

Mr Barnes was "The Boss" for all of my HGS days and I suppose it's to my lasting credit (though it may have seemed whimpish at the time) that however much I was the despair of my parents I was never bad enough to have to make that long trek to The Boss's Room to stand outside and wait for a caning.   I'm told it used to hurt.   Sadistic I call it!!

But enough.   I have a copy of Issue No.45, Summer 1951, of "The Heatonian" if you're interested.   Photographs, reports of sports matches and other events, poetry, contributions from students.   This was given to me by a friend who was also an HGS boy in my year - name of John Gilmer - and I believe he has at least one other issue.   Unfortunately, he's not on e-mail.   If you'd like to be put in touch with him I'll ask him if he'd like to be involved.   Let me know if you'd like to see my magazine and if you give me your address I'll copy it and mail it to you - I'm afraid I don't have scanning facilities.

Sorry about the length of this missive.  You know how it is with memories - once you get started.....................

Alan READ (1969-1975)

I hope I qualify for the list (We'll stretch a point) although I actually was at the school from September 1969 until July 1975 when the school was in the infancy of its comprehensive days.

Most of the teachers of my early years at school were grammar school teachers. Sometimes we were left with the impression that they much preferred teaching classes further up the school, which was considered still to be a Grammar school. I remember teachers like Dr. Henstock trying to teach we comprehensive pupils Oral English. Mr. Tansley, obviously wishing he could teach us English let alone Latin. During our second year a number of new teachers joined the staff who were obviously much more comfortable with the comprehensive system. I particularly remember Mr. Philip Sweeny, Mrs. McKenzie (English), Mr. Brown (maths and technical drawing) who seemed very capable at handling the unruly comprehensives.

When Mr.Askew retired I wrote him a letter wishing him well in retirement. He replied and made the observation that I was at Heaton at a particularly difficult time. For this reason I don't consider that I did too well at the school although I must admit I loved being at the school and continue to have fond memories.

Some of my friends were Steven Bradley, David Moffatt, Paul Tomlinson, Nigel Shiel, Stephen Heiniger, Stephen Turnbull, Richard Hutton, Neil Urwin, Clive Gosling and a number of others, too. I keep in contact with two of this number, David Moffatt and Nigel Shiel. I have picked up a number of qualifications since school and am presently a post-graduate at South Bank University, studing for an M.Sc. I am the accounts manager and company secretary for a very large international charity and live in West Wickham, Kent (just south of London). Some of my relatives went to the "actual" Heaton Grammar, Andrew Green who was couple of years ahead of me and an Uncle, John Gibson Taylor, who was at the school in the late fifties, early 1960s.

David REED 1951 - 1956

I spent 5 interesting years at "the academy"and like many others have already said it was an experience for all concerned. This was the era of Adolph, The Bat  etc. Memories of Jesmond Dene and the Himalayas have all been brought back by the various contributors. I  was in Collingwood with Hal Gibson as captain for a period and over the years I played cricket for the house and school. My contemporaries were George Ryder, Alan Saunders,  Jim Hart and Mickey Turnbull on the cricket team and Keith Black, Eddie Lowery and Kenny Abbot to name a few in my stream. In the rogues gallery there is a picture of the 1954 cricket team with one name missing -- mine (not any more!) and sitting next to me is Louis Gordon.

I have been in banking all my working life, first with Lloyds  in the U.K. and since 1974 with Scotiabank in Canada. I am looking forward to retirement in October this year. I married in 1963 and still have the same good wife, Judith, 2 sons and a wonderful granddaughter. We live in Burlington Ontario about 35 miles from Toronto.

Through a series of events i have met Steve Moore and Ian Dale and shared a couple of pints with them and also talked to Doreen Rountree (ex Heaton H igh ) whose husband Stu Rountree also attended the institution-- a good soccer player. Unfortunately Stu is confined permanently to hospital here in Burlington.

I still have my old school tie, the 1956 school magazine and a photo of the cricket team --  it is hard to believe all these years have passed since  "those good old days''. It would be good to hear from any of the Old Heatonians  

Geoff REID 1958-1965

Thanks for the website lads. It restores some humanity to teaching staff who had become far-away icons or shadowy bit-part players in odd dreams. I suspect that (the late) Ron Cherry's lasting influence was greater than he might have imagined. I think I owe my English style to a combination of Ron Cherry (who officially taught me more History than English) and George Orwell, who I discovered in the sixth form. I was co-terminous with Harvey Roll whose misdemeanours were legendary but has obviously joined civilisation as we know it since schooldays.

Memories of 1958-65 include:

  • Jesmond Dene becoming out of bounds at lunchtime because someone had used potassium permanganate to turn the Ouseburn purple.
  • The Kenton Estate bus stop (no.4) requiring the presence of a member of staff at the close of the school day.
  • Being just about the only identifiable Liberal in the school!
  • Looking after the newspapers in the library - I have read the Guardian ever since then, occasionally contributing to the letters page.
  • A rare encounter with girls from Heaton High next door as we shared in a Tyne Tees TV series which involved interviewing people like footballer Brian Clough and Member of Parliament Emanuel Shinwell.
  • Arguing with Harry Askew (Head) just before leaving about the positive advantages of comprehensive schools

Newcastle University, seemed to be the only one that would take me on to read English Language and Literature, so I lived at home, often returning on the All Night East End Circular bus. My student career included regular participation in debates, losing an election to Kate Adie, and offering overnight hospitality to Hugh Gaitskell's daughter when the Labour Club were unable to do so. From there I went on to Cambridge to collect another first degree while training for the Methodist ministry. I subsequently served in Wallsend (1971-72), Rotherham (1973-79), Barnsley (1979-86), Salford Urban Mission (1986-94) and Touchstone, Bradford (1994 - 2009).

Over the years dominant themes (not in any particular order) have been collaborative writing, community ministry, pubs, politics and public transport. And I have been married divorced and remarried, with two children, both in Sheffield.

I have worked in some of the poorest communities of the urban north and this is reflected in various shared publications including a theological account of the 1980s coal strike and various compilations on urban mission. The most influential was "Powerful Whispers" (1995), co-authored with Elaine Appelbee, which played a significant role both in the development of inner city church work in Bradford and in the establishment of Neighbourhood Renewal policy locally and nationally.

I have been an Honorary Ecumenical Canon of Bradford Cathedral, nicely balanced by a very different status as "Beer Taster and Spiritual Adviser" at my I have been a member of the Campaign for Real Ale for more than 40 years (2020) and, at one time, was the longest serving member of the Bradford Passenger Consultative Committee.

I retain the unshakeable belief that politics is a noble activity on a professional or voluntary basis and that we need more serious politics, not less. I stood as a Parliamentary Candidate in Rother Valley (October 1974), Barnsley Central (1983) and Eccles (1992). I was re-elected to Bradford Council in 2018 and my term runs to 2022..

It took me a long time to realise that HGS taught me to write well - which has supplied various organisations with a Press Officer over the years. I currently edit the multifaith "Faith Matters" column in the Bradford Telegraph and Argus on Saturdays.

In 2016. Geoff was elected Lord Mayor of Bradford. Picture shows him in full mayoral regalia, along with his more modestly dressed wife, Chris.

John (Stitch) RICHARDSON (1960-1966)

I arrived at HGS as a very small, frightened boy aged 11 - I had just turned 11 in July 1960. I left HGS in February 1966 as a not so small, frightened and damaged youth. HGS stood for 'Hell (dis) Guised as School.

I was one of the youngest and smallest of my class. I was in Form1 Potter - in the first year the forms were named after the form tutor and I think all form members were all in the same House - these houses being Stephenson, Grey, Collingwood and Armstrong . I remember that we were supposed to have allegiances to these 'houses' that overrode friendships etc. In our case our form was 1 Collingwood under the rule of 'Pansy' Potter -I'm not sure why he got the nickname 'Pansy ' - I guess it was because he was perceived as being 'soft'. If one has a scale that starts with -'Soft' (mocking.denigrating and sarcastic)' on one end and 'Hard (brutally sadistic and violent)' at the other , then I guess in those terms 'Pansy' would fit as 'soft'. In all of my school days at HGS I never discovered a tutor who had anything like a warmth, understanding or empathy to and for the boys under their care. For me, this led to a futile and misguided career in school of trying too hard to gain any teachers approval.

I had arrived from Chillingham Road Primary School, in Heaton ,one of a small number of boys who had somehow managed to pass their 11plus and almost immediately began to realise, that boys from Heaton, Byker or Walker were pupils at Heaton Grammar School under sufferance . We somehow had crept in 'under the radar' and lowered the standard- whether it was our failure to not have studied Latin - as Mr Tansley was quick to point out - or studied Algebra as Mr Pennington was also quick to point out, or talked with a funny accent as Mr Ford and others were to point out - or were completely unaware of something called 'classical music' as Mr 'Sneb' Healey would alternatively rub his hands or pick his nose to point out. It was, and still is the amazing capacity of the teaching profession to point out what pupils lack and then to dwell on the weaknesses.

In my school career I had two uniforms - one bought in 1960 that was far too big for me that I would grow into and then no sooner had I grown in to it, in 1964 I got another one that I had to equally grow into. There were boys who always seemed to have new uniforms, new shirts, new kits and it was obvious and indeed pointed out that this state of affairs reflected our 'poor place in society'. It was obvious in the different styles and makes of things like soccer kit, athletics kit, and shirts, shorts etc.

In our first year we were given 'homework ' - a new concept for an 11 year old and expected to do this in the 'study 'or 'dining room' - again a new concept - such teachers even talked about 'prep'. We had subjects like woodwork under the tyrannical regime of Mr 'Timber Willy' Waldron who had a wooden leg. The rumour was that he made it himself and that might explain the fact that it was too long and made his limp even worse. He used to ask us to be 'accurate and meticulous' (his own words) and if we used the tools correctly we would never hurt ourselves. He would hold the palms of his hands in front of the class and state in (I think) some broad west country accent that 'I never cut my hands'. This disguised the scars and indentations that we clearly visible for all to see on the back of is hands. We also encountered a Mr 'Dickie' Dawson who took us for metalwork. The nickname 'dickie' fitted because he seemed to be so scatterbrained that lessons were spent mostly in him trying to keep the furnace at the right temperature and we never really made anything.

For Biology we had the dreaded Mr 'Hitler' Henderson - the name was so appropriate that we were convinced that indeed Adolf Hilter had escaped from the allies and was masquerading as a Biology tutor in Newcastle upon Tyne. I actually think Biology was a good subject for him because he would constantly
point out the failures of the human race against the successes in the animal 'survival of the fittest' . He shouted, cajoled and bullied his pupils and indeed we lived in fear of him and most of the teachers. At the beginning of the school year we would have to write out our timetable and it was a matter of relief or dread when the names of the teachers were revealed to us. It was degrees of cruelty rather than degrees of kindness that affected our reaction.

Year 2 brought the first degrees of separation - 2G - not sure why G except we studied German as well as French. 2R which meant they became 'science' subjects , 2A who were not quite good enough to make G or R and finally 2M who literally were positions 90-120 in a whole year - already by the age of 12 consigned to 'also rans'. It was obvious throughout the whole school the forms 2G, 3G, 4G,5G, and 2R,3R,4R and 5R were the brighter pupils in Art and Science and would go to 6th form and University. The others would leave at 16 and go 'to work' .

Year 3 brought an awakening for me - I had been in Form 1 Potter and 2G but now I was to be in form 3A . A very distant figure (the headmaster usually referred to as the 'boss') called me to his office one day and his secretary gave me a letter. It was a call to a meeting in which it was described to my Mum and Dad that I had not really lived up to my full potential and that my needs would be better met in Form 3A. I remember leaving that meeting with my Mum and Dad and none of us had done anything other than behave as if we were in the presence of royalty and thank him for being gracious enough to have some form of conversation with us.

It was in Year 3 in form 3A that the most traumatic experience happened for me and for many pupils around me. We had a French tutor called Mr Stordey - and he would insist that we stood up when he came into the class. It was common practice across the school to stand up when the tutor or another adult entered the class - so as a joke I stood up on my desk . The class laughed but Mr Stordey told them to sit down and asked me to come to the front - as I walked towards him I wondered how he might shout at me or make me look small in front of the others - I was not sure what he might do. As I stood in front of him he asked my if I knew about boxing -I said 'no' and he said that 'when you box you lead with one hand' and he clenched his fist on his left hand, but that you 'hit with the other', and with that he caught me with a full blooded right hand fist to the jaw. I was literally lifted off my feet and almost went head over heels. I picked myself up not quite knowing what had happened and I held my chin as everyone was quiet and he said 'get back your desk'. I got back to my seat fighting back tears and not sure how to 'get on with the lesson'. From that moment on 'school 'was over for me'. There were no repercussions for him at all - he was a bad teacher resorting to violence and this violence was legitimated by a tyrannical school system .

I realised that for the forms labelled 3A, 4A and 5A , 3M, 4M and 5M that we were there to make up the numbers and all the tutors and pupils recognised this situation. We didn't mix together in school - they and the teachers were them and we were us. I still, almost in spite of myself tried to gain approval, as if the messages I was receiving were wrong but I was always left with a feeling that we were 'unnecessary'. And these messages were weird to say the least - I can recall various teachers during my school career that are significant for other things than their subject area. We had 'Tufty' Taylor - a geography teacher of dubious sexuality who would make all kinds of comments about pupils dress and appearance and we were frightened to be alone with him. Bob Cherry who tried hard to persuade us that 'drama' was an important adjunct to history and yet was very capable of using his sense of the dramatic to set up pupils to ridicule and put downs - Hal Gibson who taught Maths but was more interested in being seen by the boys as a good 'sport' playing football and making the PE teacher in Kes look humane. And yet when we were outrageously bullied by pupils like Macallister who terrorised most of the lower years, these teachers, 'one of the boys', 'in there and on our side', 'understood how things were', would do nothing to help pupils who by their demeanor, attitude, background and sexuality were clearly struggling. These were 'hard life lessons to learn' and we learnt to look to ourselves.

The cultural explosion of the 1960's were a direct result of schools such as HGS -they sought by every means to make the world as it has always been and they became old and outdated and their methods and ideology had to change. This they did but there is still a remnant that believes that the Grammar School should be brought back and so there have only been cosmetic changes - the wealth, the rules, the lives , the culture, the ideas, the 'ways of being' so brilliantly portrayed in the Lindsay Anderson film 'IF' are still alive in well in Harrow, Eton and so many 'public schools' if not in (H)eaton.

I entered the 6th form cos I managed to get 5 O levels but I couldn't handle the difference in both teaching style and content -there was too much pressure on self motivating and having study place at home. So I got behind and left - I really had no idea what to do. I tried a couple of 'office jobs' but I found them boring and dull so I kind of drifted around for a couple of years -jobs here and there -on the dole for a bit and then I became a DJ on the mobile circuit - I had built up a really good record collection and used this to work in pubs, clubs youth clubs for about 8 years. I loved it but the mid 70's arrived with punk music and live music and from 1976 onwards I left DJ'ing and went to Bradford Uni to do a youth work/social work course . We moved to Leeds and my 'career' from then on has been in youth work - working with many young people whose experience of school was the same as mine - then after a number of years to lecture in youth and community work at the University of Cumbria. In all of this I found God or shall I say he found me and so I left lecturing and now work for the Church. As you might imagine I work in a very poor, deprived community still trying to reconcile the huge issues of poverty and education as a way of breaking out of a very rigid cycle.

Michael RICHARDSON (1961-1966)

My sister in law Margaret (nee Davison ex Heaton High) first came across this site and then passed it on to me.

I read with great interest some of the contributions especially Jim Murray’s and Alan Stephenson’s who were both in my year - that photograph of 5R 1966 has me middle row far right as you look at it. I was not a person who will quickly spring to mind when thinking of this class, in fact my only claims to fame were my clothes and my hair (from which I got my nickname of 'Wooly' courtesy of Pug Walker; the amount of verbal abuse I got from that man, I wish I had told him a few home truths about himself).

I wish I could relate some good memories of the school but to be honest I hated every single second I was there, my happiest day there was the day I finished my last GCE O level and walked through the gate vowing never to return. Of course the best laid plans and all that, I did return some time later to play against a football team of Old Heatonians in the Tyneside Sunday League, I was made captain for the day and we won easily.

The thing I picked up most from going to Heaton was music, early blues, rock, pyschedelic, etc. which I still love. I remember taking a transistor radio around with me in the later years, which I played on the journeys back and forth from home to school through the Dene four times a day; I didn't even enjoy the school dinners.

As I mentioned I left school in June 1966, to go to work as an apprentice draughtsman at Swan Hunters Shipbuilders with two other classmates Jeff McCartney and Dave McKay. They were my last contact with the school, Jeff went to join the Church and last time I saw Dave he was still in engineering but that must have been 25 years ago.

I remember most of the teachers mentioned, Pug Walker (I hate everyone), Dickie Dawson (I'm in a trance), Timber Willie, Sneb Healey, Tufty Taylor, Hitler Henderson, Ollie Beak, Tom Cressey, all of them failed miserably to make any impression on me, the only teacher that I really had any time for was Mr.Docker who taught me Maths in my final year, was not an academic and was more on my wavelength. When I read about Alan Stephenson's life after Heaton I was most upset and although I haven't set the world alight with fancy jobs etc. I consider myself very lucky, am blessed with a wonderful family, a wonderful wife and wonderful health. I have just completed my fourth Great North Run; I still play football for my works team (Leicester based) and generally will have a go at anything sporting (if it's on dry land-those early mornings at Chilly Road baths did me for life with swimming)

I remember everyone on that photo of 5R 1966,the missing name sitting next to Matty is Denny Young, Alan I could have understood it if you had forgotten my name, anyway I would love to hear from anyone especially anyone in that photo, I am currently living in Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire.

David RIDLEY (1951-1959)

I was the tall gawky boy who limped his way through HGS from 1951 to 1959. The limp was due to tuberculosis which held me back at the beginning of my school career and I was always the oldest in the class by at least a year. I don't recall deliberately taking advantage of my disability, other than to be excused from PE, although I do remember Willie Waldron's uncharacteristic response when I kicked over a open tin of wood stain on the stage - "Which fool left that there?"

My closest friend during my 4, 5, and 6th years was Ian Tutt. We made an odd couple. I was 6'3" and Tutt 5'2". With two more "O" levels to go we failed to negotiate a down hill turn going through Armstrong Park. Tutt was unhurt, his 125 Royal Enfield was scraped and my knee cap was in several pieces. Barnes was not impressed. Highly irresponsible, was the reprimand. Neither of us was considered prefect material after that.

A year later the pair of us broke into the girls school at midnight and painted "we've got kisses sweeter than wine " on the outside of the whitewashed window of their sixth form. Our escape route involved dropping from the balcony onto the stage of the girl's school assembly hall. Tutt went first leaving go of the bottom of the balcony rail and dropping into the pitch dark. There was silence and then a thud. About a four foot drop I judged as I let go. It was more like a three inch drop as I toppled on to the stage in hysterical relief. Henstock and Barnes blamed each other's sixth formers. When questioned both Ian and I lied with aplomb. As president of the Christian Union, I was probably above suspicion, however Tutt was examined more closely. We told no-one. the mystery remained unsolved.

Ten years later Ian was struck by the first signs of M.S. He was, at last contact, living on Grantham Road paralysed by the disease, but in good spirits, a vintage 250cc Francis Barnet standing in his living room.   Ian died December 2001.

I also went through HGS with Stephen Craddock, whose expertise in making bombs and setting them off in the quarry was second to none. He was last heard of as a professor of chemistry at Edinburgh, specialising in unstable germanium compounds.

Since leaving school, I have spent my time as a scientific assistant at the Radar Research Station in Malvern, a research assistant at Oxford, a product manager at Nuclear enterprises, Edinburgh, a General Manager of Nuclear Enterprises Inc, San Carlos, California, and since 1974 have lived in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. I am currently working as a Biomed Technician at the local hospital and am the first vice-president of the 45,000 member Hospital Employees' Union.

One of the advantages of being untidy is that you forget to throw things away. I have a school photograph of 4A for 1956 and LVI Sc for 1958 as well as the school magazine for 1959, the first year of Leaping Arthur Askew's stewardship, and announcing the retirement of The Bat.

Update March 2002: Retirement has finally arrived aided by the sale of our house in Victoria and the purchase of a hovel in the small community of Mesachie Lake. We love house renovations, so to date we have replaced the rotting main beams,poured new foundations, replaced the roof, built a garage and rewired. There is still a year's work ahead of us but we are very happy.

We live a hundred metres from a 25km long lake full of trout and as long as the bears and cougars keep their distance life is idyllic.

Update November 2015: I am now 76 years old and still living on the west coast of Canada.

W Kirby Robinson (1943 - 1948)

I recently discovered the Heaton Grammar School website and was surprised at the number of contributors but few of my period. My time at the school was 1943 to 1948. I noticed there was an entry by Chas Atkinson who was a class mate with me. This has encouraged me to record some of my memories. I hope this will add something of the school’s history.

When I started in 1943 it was in the middle of the war and books etc were not easily obtained. All mine were second hand but nevertheless valuable.  I had a free place as my parents income was not high but despite this my mother was able to acquire my uniform etc. In September 1943  I entered the school in Form 1C but I was successful in achieving first place in each term and the examination which lead me to 2A,3A,4A,& 5A. I still have all my school reports much briefer than those supplied to-day.

I can list nearly all of my 5A class mates. These are as follows – Geoff Acton, Brian Gristwood, Eric Lynn, Clem Bingham, Dennis Pearson, Frank Endean, Brian Poad, Brian Surtees, Alan Stewart, Ron Hulse, Gerald Chicken, Chas. Atkinson, Drew Robb, R.Williams, Billy Nichol, ? Spencer, W. Roper, James Dalton, P. Hickey, W. Donaldson, Alf. ‘Frenchie’ Fletcher, Alec McIsaac, F. Elliott, F. Everasrd, A. McIntosh and (I am sure about this) J.Robury.  Contact with any of these has long passed although it was good to read Chas Atkinson’s contribution.  Incidently I recall  he & I were colleagues in the Under 16,Over 16 Relay Race for Armstrong House in the 1948 Sports Day.

The staff at this time was quite strong despite the war and its aftermath. The following is a nearly complete list of teachers – F.R.Barnes (Head) J.Waldron, K.Quickfall, G. Rowell, H. Bambrough, A. Clapperton, T. Wake, ?Matthews, T. Matthewson, S. Wilkins, ? Plenderleth, A. Nicholson, I.Simpson(Satan), H. Friend, J.Healey, J. Danskin, J.Norris, W.Tunnicliffe, T. Rochester, F. Loughton, J. Brown, J. Hardy, A. Hutton, T. Laidler, W. Peel, J. Walker, G. Bell, W. Purvis, M,Toll R. Whitehead. The school even had one woman teacher Ma Watson (who was a useful cricketer) and in my first year we had ‘Tich’ Bullen as a Maths teacher. He was an ex-boxer.

So much for colleagues & staff , the following are some memories. The school held an annual concert and performed one of Gilbert & Sullivan’s operas Other annual events were a cricket match against the County Club (now Newcastle Cricket Club) and a Sports Day. Towards the end of the school year the school First Eleven played a side from the County Club and on one occasion the County Club included L.F. Townsend who played for Derbyshire and the English Test Team.  Sports Day was always a great event and tea could be bought for one shilling. This was the climax of track & field events held earlier to gain standard points and then to pit the four houses of Armstrong, Collingwood ,Grey and Stephenson against each other in a number of races and field contests. The house with the most aggregate points won the Sports Shield and a Victor Ludorum was honoured. Since 1929 to 1949 (except two years due to the war) the shield was won by Armstrong once, Collingwood 8 times, Grey once and Stephenson 9 times.  The Victor Ludorum winners were – 1929/1931 T. Wardhaugh (C), 1932 A.R. Ronald (C), 1933 R. Jeffries(C), 1934 R.L. Bertram (A), 1935 A. Davison (A), 1936 R.C. Sinclair (A),1937 S. Levy (A), 1938 J.A. Rennolds (G), 1939 R.H. Davison (A),  1942 B. Moore (G), 1943 W. Ichenhauser (C), 1944 P. Hughes (S), 1945 T. Hughes (G), 1946,1947 W.G. McKay (S) . I have no record of 1948 but it may have been Alan Lillington. Other cups awarded were the Intermediate Championship Cup, the Mile Championship Cup and the Relay Race House Championship Cup. Shields were awarded every year for the top house for football, cricket and academic achievement..It was customary in the morning school assembly to give results and reports about all the inter-house contests as well as reporting upon the school’s matches against other schools When I visited the new school to replace the old Grammar School buildings I was sadden to  find the  cricket square had gone , It was beneath a new building. During the war the school suffered some damage when a string of bombs was dropped across it. Sadly one caretakers house was destroyed and the occupants killed.  No further damage was incurred due to enemy action.

It is interesting to recall some other school members. W.G. McKay and Lewis Gordon went on to play cricket for the County Club. There is an obituary for Lewis Gordon in  this website. Brian Cato  who became a barrister was well known for his ability to impersonate several teachers and mimic their mannerisms.  Alan Lillington (who I have raced against0  represented the UK at the Olympic Games of 1952 at Helsinki.  He later became a paediatrician. Bob Matthewson became a noted footballer and later a referee.  His top match was to referee the FA Cup Final. I cannot recall the year. In the early 50’s an Old Heatonian football was established and played in the North East Amateur League.

Perhaps I maybe allowed a few details about myself. I left school (I regret not going on to the 6th Form) to take up a post as office junior with Tyne-Tees Steam Shipping Company.  Whilst  there I studied accountancy and gained two accountancy qualifications  and eventually became Chief  Accountant and Assistant Secretary  of the company . I was also a director of its subsidiary company.  My National Service was delayed due to exemptions to take my accountancy exams. My period of service was mainly served at RAF Tangmere in Sussex. It was a Battle of Britain station in the war.. When the shipping industry declined in the late sixties  I left the company to lecture in accountancy at Newcastle Polytechnic which became Northumbria University. My career here was successful as I became a senior lecturer and course leader of the Accountancy Foundation Course (at one point this course had 120 students). During the 70s I took the opportunity to acquire an Open University Degree and also a Cert. Ed. In the 1980’s and 1990’s I served on the Council of one of my professional bodies  becoming its President in 1990/91. Before and after retirement I was an A Level  examiner and also for several accountancy bodies.

My wife Joan and I have been married for 59 years and lived most of our married close to the school.  We have a son & daughter and two grandsons who attend Heaton Manor School which is the school based on the site of the former Grammar School. The school is very modern with numerous facilities which were not available in my day. In the school there are several photographs on the walls of the former Grammar School. I hope that some of my former class mates are still with us and this may revive fond memories.

Chris ROBSON (1957 - 1964)

I went to Liverpool Uni for a while and then spent the rest of my life in IT with Reyrolle Parsons, Coventry Corporation and finally Midlands Electricity plc where I am still on the escape committee. I have two adult children from my first marriage and am now married to Kathryn with no children as yet. I live in Kingswinford, West Midlands but will move further North if I can wangle an early retirement deal. My mother lives 250 yards from HGS or whatever it's called now so I drive past the place quite often - have never been tempted back inside the gates since I left though. I had lunch at St James's Park on June 29th and a tour of the 'groond' was thrown in. Had a sit doon in Kev's oh no I mean Kenny's seat of power but there was nee atmosphere as the place was deserted. (The staff get sacked for putting a foot on the pitch.)

Norman ROBSON (1957 - 1964)

I left Heaton in 64, went to Manchester University and then joined the IT Industry (Programming, Systems Analysis, Operations, Consultancy and now, Sales) in Littlewoods, Local Government and ICL in turn. I, too, have worked in all parts of the World - Liverpool, Sunderland, North Shields, Edinburgh and Manchester. I married Anne (ex Heaton High) and we now have two children, aged 25 and 23. My last contact with Heaton Manor School as it now is (having merged with Manor Park many years ago) was to attend Big Bill Tunnicliffe's funeral about 15 years ago. At the time I believe that Hal Gibson was the Head, but other attendees included Ken Quickfall(PE) and Jack Walton(Physics and World War Two Bomber Crew, if I remember rightly). At 1 November 1998, Norman reported that he was "leaving ICL on the 9th November for pastures new and as yet unidentified" . A bit over a year later, and Norman is working for Vertex Data Science, but looking forward to retirement. (Aren't we all!)

Harvey ROLL (1958 - 1965)

When an old friend (Greg McLoughlin - HGS 1958-65) mentioned on a recent visit to the UK that he had seen this site I took a look. I was staggered by the impact it had on me. It was rather like the effect of the taste of Proust’s small cakes and I was overwhelmed by “the vast edifice” of memory it engendered. The love-hate relationship with school and staff, enemies and friends, incident piled on incident - it’s all still there, bright and fresh and hiding in a mental drawer I hadn't opened for decades. Countless names and faces, adventures in the Dene, freezing football days, eerily silent examinations in the creaking wooden school hall, Jack Walton and Tufty Tailor showing off by singing the fiddly bits in “Bread of Heaven”, the food!*/@!, the dusty, complex smells of the school library, Joe Messer’s basso profundo announcing round the door that the Headmaster wished to see Roll!!! I coincidentally had a powerful recollection recently listening to the “Kennedy Tapes” on BBCR4 about the Cuban Missile Crisis. I relived that day when we waited for news, in the form-room, listening to the radio through the large, square, wooden Rediffusion speaker, making stupid jokes while half fearing a blinding flash searing over the sports field from the direction of the Corner House pub...before Kruschev finally climbed down. Of the staff, I remember with particular fondness “Zeke” Paterson, Senior Chemistry Master, Ron Cherry, English and History and, of course, Timber Willie with his extraordinary thumb and its many, denied-by-him, deep laceration scars! This strange man also boasted that he had swum Coniston Water both ways during the school’s evacuation during WWII. Does anyone know if that is true? I met Cherry several years later in “The Avenue” pub in Whitley Bay. He said that he liked the rebels. I said he didn't show it much. We both laughed. Another unerasable character is (was?) Pug Walker. He attempted to teach me history for a couple of years. He had a magnificent habit of picking both nostrils of his ample and spreading schnozzle simultaneously whilst intoning in broad Geordie the goings on in Elizabethan England. I remember with astonishing clarity one exchange when he was handing back history homework books: “Roll, [pronounced row-ill] where are yuh hiding it?” “Hiding what Sir?” “Is it in a matchbox son?” “Is what in a matchbox Sir?” “Is it in a gramophone-needle box mebbe?” “Is WHAT in a gramophone-needle box Sir?” “The pet spider yuh dipped in yer ink and then let run around on yer book of course!” ...collapse of stout party!

I still see from time to time Geoff Cunningham now in Liverpool (and his younger brothers Phil and Clifford on occasions), Paul Hughes (see this page above), Derek Talbot (former several-times world Badminton champion and thus a genuine HGS superstar!!) now living in Majorca, Greg McLoughlin in Adelaide and I nod to the odd person I recognise in town etc. “Mossy” Davison died in a car crash in the seventies. He was a good friend and a very talented artist and fashion designer. He had become a lumber jack in Kielder Forest and was (perversely) killed by a falling telegraph pole when he was thrown from the car. I miss him.

I live very happily in Gosforth with my partner Di Overton, we have three children each and five between us! We run an advertising, graphics and multimedia company in Newcastle. Delighted to hear from anyone - email: or see http//www/ Keep up the good work Cowans, old boy! Regards, Harvey

Barrie RUSSELL (1962 - 1969)

Only Heaton Grammar could have devised a system of education where one spent five years in a single sex boy’s school before being thrown into a coeducational sixth form.

This was however the sixties and from this promising quirk of fate my life began.

I am eternally grateful to some gifted and dedicated staff. A man I only remember as "Lurch" dragged me through French. Mike Good inspired me to want to go to university and John Barker taught me how to play rugby so that I would have something to do when I got there. (I’m still playing rugby for Novos.)

I never understood why Mr Cunningham gave us so many notes to copy and why every lesson ended with 400 lines. Perhaps that was discipline.

I vividly remember the exceptional fireworks display that took place in the Dene during the staff/pupil cricket match. This was followed two weeks later by the equally memorable visit to Clifford Street Police Station.

In class I always sat with Dave Gray, Fred Perry and Kuldip Bedi. Where are you now?

After studying and working in Agriculture I decided to return to university and train to be a teacher. I am now a Newcastle head teacher, married with two boys who go to Heaton School.

Waiting in line at open evenings brings back memories especially when Tony Westwell is still sitting behind one of the desks. Thirty years on I am perhaps even more aware of how happy life was at Heaton.

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