The 60th anniversary of a north Northumberland school, which marked ‘a completely new era in the educational life of the region’, is to be marked by a reunion weekend for former staff and students.
The newly-built Glendale County Secondary School opened its doors on August 31, 1953, to 189 pupils aged between 11 and 15 and eight teachers.
Built within 14 acres of land to the latest design for £85,000 and kitted out with modern equipment, it was constructed on the site of the former prisoner-of-war camp on Brewery Road.
The first headmaster was Mr AH Robson, previously of the Duke’s School in Alnwick, who was in charge until his retirement in 1964 and was known to pupils locally as Starchy.
In 1977, the school became Glendale Middle School.
Alderman WH Kirksop-Reed, of Northumberland Education Committee, officially opened the school in June, 1954, when he said: “We want the children to regard this school with affection. We want them to be proud of it.”
And judging by the response to past renunions, they were.
Previous reunions were held for the 40th and 50th anniversaries and in 2003, more than 350 people turned out for the golden celebration event.
Now a 60th anniversary event is being held across a weekend in October.
There are 2,128 names on the school register between 1953 and 1977 and more than 1,000 names and present addresses have been tracked down.
Sadly, this is the last reunion that the committee will be organising and they would like to make it a ‘special, happy and lasting occasion’.
The late Roy Ancrum, the long-serving deputy headteacher at the school, wrote a piece ahead of the school’s 50th anniversary in 2003.
He said: “If you had been motoring northwards on the A697 50 years ago this summer, you might have noticed as you swung left and right over the old stone bridge that spans the Wooler Water at the approach to the town, away on the right, a large, spick and span new building – quite the largest you had passed since leaving Northgate and larger than any you would pass on this route to Edinburgh until you reached Dalkeith.
“It was the new Glendale County Secondary School which, in June of that year, admitted pupils for the first time.
“‘So what was remarkable about that?’ you may ask.
Put briefly, it was a notable landmark in the history of Glendale because it ushered in a completely new era in the educational life of the region – one of the very largest school catchment areas in the whole of England, stretching as it does from the Scottish border close to Mindrum to outlying farms beyond Whittingham, 25 miles further south and from Goldscleugh in the west almost to Eglingham in the east.
“It signalled a change in the lives of the people of the area that can only be appreciated fully now after an interval of 50 years.”
l The reunion weekend runs from Friday to Sunday, October 18 to 20, in Wooler and is for all former pupils and members of staff of Glendale County Secondary School from 1953 when it opened to 1977 when it changed to Glendale Middle School.
If you have not received an invitiation or application for tickets, email email@example.com or call 01890 883330. The closing date for tickets is September 20.
For any other queries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01890 761393.
MEMORIES OF SCHOOLDAYS
JEAN CURRY (BOLAM)
My memories of Glendale School are very special; Great staff, good friends and delicious lunches! It had a real family feel and everyone looked out for each other. I must make a special mention of Mr Ancrum, who gave me a life-long interest in English literature and history, he really was a special teacher.
ANN WALKER (LOCKHART)
Brilliant news – another reunion! I savoured the experience and thrived on the memories of the first one for months, back in Yorkshire. I have lovely memories of my time at GCSS 1954-59. The school was pristine and welcoming and there was such a good spirit of friendship among the pupils and staff. When the school opened, it brought a whole generation of young people together and they all bonded and blossomed with the encouragement of the teachers, who were second to none. It brought a whole new range of subjects to study and knowledge to be gained. It opened up horizons and fired ambition and ultimately lead to many of those young people spreading their wings and moving away in all directions. But on a less serious note, some of my memories are of rainy-day dance lessons in the gym, lunch-time trips to the Milk Bar for aniseed balls, Miss Simpson’s lovely custard...
GRAHAM RENDALL – TEACHER
The school offered a very wide-ranging curriculum. As well as the normal academic subjects, it also offered a specialised course in agriculture to youngsters from other parts of the county. These students were boarders and resided in the Ryecroft Hotel. It has, is and, I hope, always will be a very happy environment in which to work and learn.
ITINERARY OF THE WEEKEND’S EVENTS
Friday, October 18
2pm – 60th anniversary celebration assembly at Glendale Middle School.
7.30pm – Free drop-in meet and greet at the Tankerville Arms including music from Andy Whittle.
Saturday, October 19
1pm-5.30pm – Reunion day at school with refreshments, video from the 50th anniversary reunion, articles, old photos and more.
4pm – Cake cutting and photos.
7.30pm-11.30pm – Social evening at Tankerville Arms or the school with Tommy Grieve. Buffet and raffle at 9pm.
11.30pm – Blether-on at the Tankerville Arms.
Sunday, October 20
10am onwards – Informal goodbyes at the Tankerville Arms.