|80 Years Old!
September saw the 80th anniversary of the opening of the school at Harton.
Staff first took their places on Monday, 7th September, 1936, in preparation preparing for the start of term on Thursday, 10th, when boys from the High School in Mowbray Road and Westoe Secondary School were scheduled to combine and take their places in the new building..
However, while the official opening went ahead on the 10th as scheduled, the lack of many pieces of equipment meant that the actual start of term was delayed until Monday, 14th.
The newspaper article from that week tells the story.
Back in 1928, the local authority had bought a 13-acre L-shaped section of Harton Farm from the Ecclesiastical Cmmmissioners with the intention (and permission from the Board of Education) of building an elementary school on the site.
But the accommodation crisis that was hitting both the High School
in Mowbray Road and the Westoe Secondary School, the local authority sought permission from the Board of Education to build a secondary school on the site - unfortunately this permission was refused.
It took the intervention of the local MP, and Colonel Chapman to get the Board of Education to reverse the decision, and the project went ahead with the intention of combining boys from the High School and Westoe Secondary School.
Staff had occupied the building since the Monday, and the great and the good (and 4th & 5th form boys) attended a formal opening ceremony on Thursday, 10th.
When the boys turned up the following Monday, the admission records show that there were about 220 from Westoe, 297 from the High School and 100 new boys - a total of 617 - although the school was built for only 550.
This discrepancy is largely accounted for by the fact that the High School had 4 preparatory forms (1B upper & lower, 1A and 2) - so that 16 8-year-olds, 15 9-year-olds and 24 10-year-olds were also transferred into two prep forms as there was nowhere else for them to go (this explains why boys entering in 1936 actually entered the 3rd year).
As time went on, the plan was that these prep boys would catch up and join their contemporaries, and the numbers would stabilise at around 550 after a few years.
Despite a blip in the school's 3rd year, in 1939 the numbers were down to 543 as the last of the prep classes had been assimilated into the mainstream.
After that, the numbers increased steadily, even with the loss of the Sixth Form.
With the new buildings, and the reinstatement of the Sixth Form, by 2013 the school was accommodating about 1,600 pupils (of which 250 were in the Sixth Form).
For more on the development of the school, and its precursors, see A Potted History.
Mike Todd, Rothbury, 4-Sep-2016
OPENING OF TERM
With exclamations of wonder and
delight, 620 South Shields boys,
forgetting the hopes of their parents,
the envy of less fortunate scholars,
will troop into the new High School at
Harton on Monday.
Their excitement will be subdued into
awe by the long, cool corridors, the
seemingly innumerable class-rooms, the
wonderfully equipped laboratories, gym-
nasium and shower baths.
Due to have commenced on Thursday,
the term's beginning has had to be
deferred until Monday as much of the
equipment has not yet arrived, and
much has not yet been unpacked or
placed in position.
Even so the work of the school will
commence four days before the official
by the Bishop of Durham (Dr.
Hensley Henson) on Thursday, Sept.10
Built and equipped at a total cost
approximating £53,000, the new High
School has been described as the finest
school building controlled by a muni-
cipality North of London.
Laid out on what the architects,
Messrs G. R. Smith and partners, of
South Shields, describe as the collegiate
plan, the new High School is a long,
red brick two-storey building, which
completely surrounds two quadrangles.
This plan ensures ample light to all
class-rooms and corridors.
Some idea of the length of the build-
ing can be gained from the fact that the
South corridor is 450 feet long.
After a "Shields Gazette" reporter
had peeped into all the 16 class-rooms, the
senior and junior chemistry and physics
laboratories, the biology room, the
music room, art room, the libraries, and
stately assembly hall capable of seat-
ing 55 people, Mr. W. T. Lucas, the
headmaster, spoke enthusiastically of
the school's special features.
First, he put the spaciousness and
lightness of the class rooms, most of
which face South. The completeness
the laboratory accommodation and equip-
ment was another feature he praised
highly, remarking favourable on the
inclusion of the biology laboratory, a
new and progressive item in a high
The equipment of the metal work
rooms will also enable the modern side
of the teaching to be developed.
Boys with a scientific turn will be de-
lighted with the electrical equipment in
A rectifier transforms alternating
current into direct current, and a fine
switchboard enables any number of a
bank of batteries to be charged, and for
voltage to be
tapped off at the required
power from 2 to 18 volts.
This electrical equipment is far in
advance of that to be found at most
Four football pitches and a fine cricket
pitch will be noted with appreciation by
the boys. The school stands in its own
grounds, which are about 14 acres in
extent, and this not only enables the
to be in reach of the
school, with its changing rooms and
shower baths, but it ensures that the
wonderful site will never
with other buildings.
At the Education Authority's office the
"Shields Gazette" reporter was informed
that although about 620 boys will attend
the school when it opens, this number
will be gradually reduced to 550 as the
preparatory forms are worked out.
The school has been built by a South
Shields firm, Messrs Carruthers and