« Interesting News | Main | Memories »

Two Rooms And A View: 47 - In The Library

Robert Owen's final school report said he had held a place in the top six of the 'A' form and "played a fiery game of football''.

He had gained one other important thing during his secondary school days: a love of books and reading.

To read earlier chapters of Robert's vividly recalled life story please click on Two Rooms And A View in the menu on this page.

Mr Edgar was our new headteacher in September 1948.

He was a complete contrast to Mr Wilson and we rarely saw him except for school assemblies. He did not stay long and in the early 1950's took up a new career as a Curate at St Hilda's Church in the town. Life begins at sixty-five!

In 1950 pupils left secondary schools at 15 years of age without attempting any external national examinations. Examinations were for Grammar School pupils; we had a one-page end-of-year school report. This listed all the subjects studied and the standard obtained from Poor to Excellent. The report was completed by the respective form teacher with the headmaster adding any comments as appropriate.

We were then given these to take home by hand on the last day of the summer term. Many of these never reached home and could be seen torn up and blowing about on Stanhope Road. According to my final report, I had 'held my place in the top six of the 'A' form for four years and played a fiery game of football'.

We were then given these to take home by hand on the last day of the summer term. Many of these never reached home and could be seen torn up and blowing about on Stanhope Road. According to my final report, I had 'held my place in the top six of the 'A' form for four years and played a fiery game of football'.

The school had a library, the books for which were kept in a large cupboard in the main hall. They came out once a week on a Friday morning. In year three, along with Jimmy Nelson, I was chosen to run the school library by Charlie Adamson, the deputy head.

This in fact meant a morning of hard work and missing lessons, which did not help academic progress, although we gave little thought to that at the time. Assembly did not finish until 9.20 a.m. and the school hall was required for lunch at 11.30 a.m. Allowing for the morning break, we had less than two hours to set the tables up, transfer the books from cupboard to tables, then go around each class and politely ask respective teachers to release library boys, acknowledge the return of books, stamp out newly selected books and file the tickets. The books then had to be returned to the cupboard and the tables dismantled. It was often a race against the clock.

Jimmy and I did this job for an academic year until the start of Year IV, when the metalwork teacher refused point blank to allow any pupil of his class to miss a lesson just to run the school library.

One of the perks of the job was having first choice of any new books. Seeing a book entitled 'Cricket on the Hearth', I made sure it went into my haversack first! I thought it was a cricket book for reading in front of the fire. What a disappointment I got when I started reading it!

If I recall correctly, the favourite books of the time were the Biggies series by Capt. W E Johns and the Hardy Boys' Mysteries by F W Dixon.

By jointly looking after the school library and by talking to Charlie Adamson, I discovered South Shields had a large public library in Ocean Road. I paid it a visit the following Saturday morning and thought Christmas and my birthday had come together. The choice of thousands of books to borrow for 2d for two years; numerous reference books and newspapers to read free of charge and upstairs, a large museum on the history of the town. Why had nobody told me about this place before
now?

I was to be a regular visitor there for many years to come, borrowing mostly non-fiction books on every imaginable subject. As a result, a library ticket could always be found in my wallet, wherever I lived, ever since that conversation with the Deputy Head at Stanhope Road School in 1948.

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.