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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Caldew School celebrates fiftieth anniversary

They say school days are the best days of your life. Not everyone would agree with that, but they certainly left an impact on some pupils who were among the first to attend the new Caldew School in Dalston in 1959.

Caldew School Timeline photo
Caldew School’s first class, 1959

The school opened with 300 pupils and, 50 years on, 950 pupils are helping to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year.

Hundreds of school photographs will be on display in the chapel during Dalston Festival week which runs from August 1-8, ranging from the first football team, to the school winning the 1976 Athletic Championships.

Enterprise Coordinator Cheryl Eastburn has had a busy time collating all the pictures for the exhibition and has been delighted with the response from ex-pupils.

“We have had people contacting us from all over the world wishing us well with our celebrations” she said.

People like Howard Armstrong, of Tindale Drive Carlisle, who was one of the first pupils at the school. He recalls: “We all lined up in the school yard and when our names were called, we put up our hand and were allocated a form and a house (I was form 1B and Buttermere House). We were then marched into our respective classrooms and introduced to our form teacher, Miss Streatfield who took the register. She was in her late 20s, very nice and most of the class liked her.

“We then made our way to the assembly hall. It was huge. The staff were all ensconced on the stage, which to me was a very daunting sight, having only ever had up to two teachers at junior school.

“Taking his place at the lectern was a tall gent in flowing black robes. This was Mr Green, the headmaster. The first morning assembly began. The opening hymn, played by the music teacher Mr Douglas was Morning Has Broken. That was the very first day of Caldew School.

“The school wasn’t officially opened until some time later by Dame Mary Smietonwho was Secretary to the Department of Education at that time.

“I wasn’t a scholar, but there were a few things I excelled at, the favourite being dancing. I couldn’t get enough of it. It was the only subject I got an ‘A’ for. I was good at history, geography and RI, as my father was a Sunday school teacher. I also excelled at acting and had good parts in several plays, produced and directed by Miss Charlton (joint deputy head)

“I left school on a Friday in the summer of 1962 aged 14 and began working at the Co-op in Dalston village square the following Monday.”

More memories come from Arthur Peers of Lowca Lane, Seaton, who lived at Burgh by Sands in his early years. He too was one of the first pupils.

“On that first day I felt frightened, intimidated and yet excited about starting at the new Caldew School. I’d travelled from Byre End Corner,Burgh by Sands via Moorhouse, Orton and Baldwinholme with my sister Christine, arriving like so many others, wearing our school uniforms with the badge depicting the famous old Dalston Black Red Cockerel.

“Our mum had bought our uniforms, mainly with Co-op dividend and she had hand-knitted our jumpers.

“My class was 2B (quickly changed to 2A) and I too remember the first day in assembly with Mr Green the headmaster.

“Little did I know that I would see this fine man on a regular basis on account of my nuisance and mischievous ways. Those reading this, who may remember me, will understand what I am saying. I was called to his office so often I once suggested he ordered coffee for two! His answer was – ‘Peers get out, but I’m watching you’.

“I’m pleased to say I eventually did reach a degree of maturity and became the second head boy of the school, something I am still proud of today.

“The school had (and still has today) a reputation for sporting excellence. Within two years of its opening we were competing against established schools at cricket, rugby union and football with some notable successes. Four of us, Ian Hodgson, Howard Sims, Peter Spence and myself were selected to play football for North Cumberland Schools. I believe the goal posts at Caldew are still in the same place, even after 50 years.

“Leaving school was a sad day for me but I chose the police service as my career and moved around the country, eventually retiring as a police sergeant at Workington.

“I congratulate Caldew on reaching it’s 50th birthday and wish it well for the next 50 years.”

Marion Sowerby (née Attenborough) from Carlisle attended Caldew between 1969 and 1974.

“I remember lining up on the tennis courts with my friends from primary school waiting to find out which form I had been placed in and hoping we’d all be in the same one.

“It was quite daunting after attending a village primary school where there were only around 100 pupils and now there were about 700.

“I was allocated to form 1L and my form tutor was Mr Eland who gave me my timetable for the year. You were placed in sets for some subjects from the start of term.

“I was horrified when I found out I had been placed in set one for French, taught by the headmaster, Mr Douglas. I’d never spoken the language, unlike some of my friends who had been taught basic French at their primary school. Fortunately I survived.

“My mum, like most, bought my uniform from Harker and Bell’s in Scotch Street during the summer holidays as they were the only stockists. There were none of the choices that are open to parents today.

“It consisted of a blue and white striped shirt, school tie, maroon tunic, grey jumper and the classic black school blazer.

“There were quite a few married couples working at the school as teachers during my years there. Mr and Mrs Lowis (physics and drama), Mr and Mrs Harper-Tarr (PE and home economics) – I still use recipes that I learnt in her lessons to this day. Mr and Mrs Akland (English). Many had nicknames – Mr Dobson, (maths) was known as Joe 90 for his similarity in looks to the puppet from the TV show. I thought he was a good teacher and I give him credit for getting me through my O-level maths.”

Do you recognise yourself in the 1959 school line-up? Contact Timeline if you do and we’ll see if we can manage to name everyone.

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