Schoolday Memories by Jean Robson (nee Clough)

Jean Robson our first author was born in the village and has kindly given us permission to add some of her memories accompanied by associated photographs to the Hub.  Jean begins by describing a day 86 years ago; the day she started at Haughton Church Of England School; the very same school where she later became a well loved teacher.

Schoolday Memories

I remember well the day I went to school, it was January 17th 1927.  There were no special times for starting.  The day you were five, your Mother took you and your birth certificate.  I had sixpence for the bank and I put it on the teacher’s desk.  She lifted the lid and my sixpence rolled away.  A boy called John Greville picked it up and said you can come and sit with me.  We sat together until we were seven and then we both caught diphtheria and sadly John died.  His father was a master at the Darlington Grammar School and he had a sister called Margaret.  

Haughton Church Of England School

Haughton Church of England School

Our teacher was Miss Kate Buckton.  In those days girls who had been to the High School and whose parents would not or could not send them to college became unqualified assistants but Kate Buckton had only ever been to Haughton School.  In the classroom there was an open fire with a fireguard around it and that was the only means of heating.  One afternoon we were given needles and a ball of grubby wool and told to knit.  At the end of the session we were told to pull it out and put it back as we got it.  Needless to say very little knitting was done after that but I remember the girls had to teach the boys to knit.

We were a Church School and learnt catechism as well as Bible Stories and Inspectors used to come to test our knowledge.  When they had finished we had the rest of the day off.  For many years my Mum had a drawing of Jesus walking on water.

When I started school we were in County Durham and soon afterwards we became part of Darlington.  Miss Kate Buckton was no longer allowed to teach and Miss Groves took her place.  I am not sure of the dates but my brother Dennis was five years younger than me and Miss Groves taught him.

As soon as we became part of the Borough the school was enlarged.  Two new classrooms and an upstairs room were added.  The upstairs room acted as a laboratory and kitchen.  There were Bunsen Burners and an oven.  No Health and Safety in sight!  However, there was an escape route into the Churchyard.  It was still an all age school for 5 - 14 year olds.

I think it must have been the dedication of the new classrooms when all the boys wore blue paper hats and all the girls wore white and we made a St. Andrew’s cross in the playground.

We were well taught - six of us took the scholarship and four passed: Eileen Monkhouse; Fred Appleton; Majorie Smith and myself.  Until this year all those who passed the scholarship had to go to Stockton to school but from our year onwards, everyone went into Darlington.

The Staff were: Miss Groves, Miss Richardson, two Miss Mintoes and Mr ‘Pop’ Haynes.  The Headmaster was Mr ‘George’ Backhouse.  After two or three years the school became a 5 years – 11 years group and the older children went to Eastbourne.

When the yard flooded because of excess rain, we could not go to school but after a while, long concrete steps were built at the Church end and a gate was made into the Churchyard, incidentally, it is still there today – and everyone was able to get into the school.

At the age of eleven I took off for pastures new at Darlington High School for Girls under Miss Harrison’s headship.  Many years later I came back to teach at Haughton, by this time it was a primary school for 5 to 11 year olds.  I taught children after Miss Groves and loved every minute of it.   Mr Ralph Dixon was Headmaster and I became his deputy.  The Teaching Staff were: Miss Joyce Close, Miss Mary Richardson, Mrs Mary Catchpole and Mr Daniels.  Mrs Walker was a teaching assistant and Miss Groves became Mrs Vitty.

Haughton Teachers 

Haughton Teachers 

Back Row:

Arthur Done, Pop Dixon, Jim Daniels 

Middle Row:

Joan Stokes, Mary Richardson, Avril Williams, Joyce Close 

Front Row: 

Mrs Walker, Mary Catchpole, Christine Vitty, Jean Robson

Each year we took the children away for a day, had Christmas parties and celebrated historical events such as Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation on the 2nd June 1953. 

Coronation Celebrations 1953

Coronation Celebrations 1953

Some years we had a concert in the Village Hall on Stockton Road (now the Oak Lodge Nursing Home).

Because of all the housing estates being built around us, the school became very full, Arthur Done and his class moved into the Village Hall.  For a time there was a class in Bewick’s Studio.  It is now the garage attached to 74 The Green.  Eventually, there was also a class in the Church Hall and one in one of the new classrooms at Springfield Primary.  Springfield School opened so there was room for us again.

Mr Dixon retired and Mr Jack Greenhalgh took his place.  Incidentally, Jack and Phyl are both 92 years and have been married for seventy years.

There were changes of course, new loos for staff and children and new ways of running a school.  I left in 1958 and Mrs Maud Farley took my place.

Later Red Hall Primary was built to take over all the children. 

Haughton School was closed in December 1972.

For a time it was a successful centre for small enterprises but gradually people moved out and it became a prime site for vandals.  Twice it was set on fire and eventually demolished to prevent any more trouble.

Written 2010