Here, Chris Richards recalls memories of Glaisdale School, Nottingham and reveals how it was between 1973 and 1978. The School is about to close this summer (2001), and the name of Glaisdale will be no more.
Growing up in the 70s was an experience in itself, and after finding many schoolmates at www.friendsreunited.co.uk, I have decided to put my account of these years onto the web. I have recently been complemented on my memory, so here goes!
My first introduction to the school was in the summer of 1973, a fine summer. My first memory was of the day that the kids from the Robert Shaw Junior School would be going to look at the 'new big school'.
Forming a neat line and leaving behind the small chairs and sandpits of Robert Shaw, an 11 year old army trundled under the subway under Western Boulevard, past the chlorine smell of Beechdale Baths, and up Beechdale Road, past the gents hairdressers, wool shop, chip shop and past the garage at the end of Robins Wood Road, which had several old cars for sale, including an Austin Cambridge for £50.
The teacher led the way, flared trousers flapping in the breeze, and the sounds of Sweet, Slade and the Bay City Rollers came from a prefab window, as well as the gravied smell of someone's meat pie dinner, just past a building which had 'WIMPEY' on it in big mustard coloured letters.
Eventually the school came into sight, high on a hill nestling in between what seemed like a million bungalows. I looked ahead at the 'Heinz 57' lettering of the warehouse on Wigman Road, and back at the John Player factory in Radford, which had now shrunk almost out of sight in the heat haze.
The bungalows broke ranks, and an iron gate beckoned next to a green sign 'Glaisdale Comprehensive School. This place made Robert Shaw seem pocket-sized, and we entered the foyer, with its formica, polish and disinfectant smell.
A 5th year pupil had been assigned to show us round, and he looked like a giant in his navy uniform, with a navy and sky blue tie, with a fine red line. We peered through glass doors into metalwork, physics, woodwork and metalwork labs, out onto the giant playground that shimmered in the sun; this was one hell of a giant step for an 11 year old to be making.
A rulebook was sent to my parents house at 31 Ainsley Road, which stipulated that 'hair must not touch the collar' and that 'a navy or black blazer is to be worn'. The new recruits were divided up into 'houses' such as Wollaton, Trent, Castle, etc and I glanced at my mother as she sewed the badge onto my black blazer. ready for the trip to Glaisdale next Monday!
I gulped at the next section of the book - 'The cane or the slipper will used for disciplinary purposes'.
Monday came too soon, and I pulled on my uniform and packed my black Adidas sports bag with my pens, compass, ruler and everything I needed for the first day. 50p dinner money for the week was thrust into my hand, and I strode up Ainsley Road to pick up Andy Curtis at 5, Ainsley Road, before calling for Mike Bates just round the corner.
Walking up Beechdale Road with lumps in our throats, we soon arrived at the gates, which we had last seen dressed as children, but now passed through with blazers and ties, up past the ranks of bigger lads, who looked down on us with lizard-like eyes and muscular bodies, their battered black flannel blazers smelling of stale fagsmoke.
I looked at the range of painted haversack flaps: 'Pink Floyd', 'Colditz Climbing Club' (Andy Armstrong), 'Genesis' and one which I have never figured out to this day 'BELIDRI'. Some youths were sat on a wall sharpening pencils with flick-knives, and a group of 4th years booted a football around with platform boots in a sea of bravado and just-broken voices.
Unfamiliar faces filled the room, from the Glenbrook School just down the road, Bilborough kids. We sat at a desk while the teacher passed round a squared up piece of paper to all of us. Here we wrote in which lessons we had on what days, PE, Geography, English, Art, Metalwork, Woodwork and even Needlework.
By the first breaktime, the nerves had subsided a little, but as I threw my bag into the heap by the side of the Woodwork Lab and raced out to play football, the first fight erupted, between a Robert Shaw and a Glenbrook kid.
Feeble arms threw flaccid windmill punches and the teacher raced across in houndtooth jacket and cords, with a face like an animated beetroot, to break up the scrap and disperse the crowd who had gathered in a circle around the two 11 year old gladiators. Returning to pick up my bag, some joker had interlaced all the haversack straps and tied the lot together.
September soon gave way to winter, and soon 1974 was upon us. When the playground got icy, the trick was to make a giant icy slide by skidding along it with your platform boots. A line of pupils formed to do this, until the surface was soon highly polished like an ice rink. When the breaktime whistle sounded, the five years lined up in order, and I glanced across at the big lads, with their regulation 'feather cuts'.
This was the haircut sported by the Bay City Rollers or David Bowie at this time. They looked a right load of scruffy gits, I thought, with their ties tied as fat and short as possible and schoolbooks stuffed into trouser pockets. You could see the standard of dress getting gradually worse from the 1st up to the 5th year, as we were last to shuffle in through the tiny green door between the Technical Drawing Lab and the Cloakroom.
Andy Todd and I entered the boys' toilets with trepidation, as we had heard that 'you get your head put down the pan and flushed'. Two rows of small sinks led to the toilet doors, with a water-drinking fountain on the left. The doors were peppered with holes where they had been used for darts practice.
Looking down into the toilet bowl, a kid's snorkel parka had been shoved down there. Stifling a smirk, we went to fetch the Metalwork teacher Mr Bowmar, who fished it out with a length of copper pipe. Seeing the name 'A Ridley' in pen on the neck, we knew that some joker had got it in for old Alan.
Sitting down to assembly the next morning, the Head of the School, Jack Aram, strode up to the podium and delivered a thundering sermon that included the flushing of Ridley's parka.
Suddenly his gaze was diverted up to the 5th year balcony area and his voice jumped about 2 octaves. 'GET THAT HAT OFF' he cried, pointing to bespectacled Chris Matthews, who was wearing a German helmet to assembly, probably captured by his father or grandfather on some distant battlefield on the Somme sixty years earlier.
Public caning was still in existence at that time, and I clearly remember it being used. All the boys in the yard stood silently as Alan Webster swished his cane in the air with vigour. A youth was bent over a chair, which had been placed on one of the raised grass areas in front of the Cloakrooms.
What he had done was uncertain, but it was enough to warrant a public caning in the yard. As Webster took a red-faced run-up, the youth gritted his teeth as the cane, kept supple in Webster's fish tank, smashed a crippling blow to his flannel trousers.
Five more followed, each time preceded by a run up and a puff of dust from the pupil's unwashed keks. Despite being a Christian and an RE teacher, Alan Webster took great delight in inflicting pain on other human beings, and we could never understand this.
When the bell rang at 3.50, I walked home with Tony Gibbons, who lived on the next street, and had to be home for his paper round. Morley's papershop on Grassington Road was home to ex-Forest footballer Bill Morley and his football prodigy son, Trevor.
It was impossible to get the ball off Trevor on the Southfield Road playing field. He would dodge, weave, dribble, twist and turn like a young Georgie Best.
That evening a lad called Skerrit found a dead rat on the football field, which he swung round and round by its tail. This eventually ended up being aimed across Southfield Road at two teenage girls, but came to rest on the bonnet of a Ford Cortina. As we walked round to Len and Brenda's Chinese Chippy on Ainsley Road, we wondered whether Rat would be on the menu that night.
I recall snowy winter days with ease. Snow fell like king-size dandruff as I made my way up to Andy Todd's house at 148 Robinswood Road. Coming from a council estate, I always felt that Andy was better off than me, because his mum was a schoolteacher and they had shag pile carpets, Wharfedale speakers, a Garrard turntable, central heating, a posh three piece and a cat called Sheba.
Turning into his drive, I just had time to swing past his mum's white Mini (ATV 321K) before a flurry of snowballs hit me, thrown by Toddy, Paul Taylor and Tim Broad, who were lying on his garage roof. Toddy kept white pet rats in his garage, although not like the monster street-fighting rat that Skez had picked up on the playing field.
Physical Instruction was an integral part of our education. The rule after a PE lesson was that underwear was to be changed completely. So, Mr Short came round to inspect your spare pair of pants which you pulled from your bag and showed to him.
It was the era of those horrible candy stripe Y-fronts which everyone's mothers nicked from the factory where they worked. Watches were locked in the office and the lesson started.
Mark Farrall, however had forgotten his shorts and so had to do the lesson in tight pink Y-fronts. It was either that or wear the spare kit from Short's office, which looked like it had seen action with Stanley Matthews just after World War Two.
Our class of '78, the year I left Glaisdale School, included the following:-
Karen Aplin, Claire Axworthy, Julie Baker, Tracy Belcher, Peter Berridge, Kevin Binder, Karl Bingham, Darren Bradey, Wendy Bradley, Susan Brailsford, Tim Broad, Chris Brookes, Kay Burrows, Peter Burke, Eddie Bush, Dawn Chadburn, Jane Cheetham, Mike Chilton (Chilly),
Caroline Cooper, Daryl Cree, Cheryl Danby, Debbie Daniels, Steven De St Croix, Ian Dickens, Julia Dring, Tony Easy, Paul Edwards (Spud), Deborah Evans, Mark Farrall (Faz), Helen Ford, Chris Freeborough, Steve Gabbitas, Tracey Glover, Janice Greenacre, Rebecca Hallam,
Alison Hennesey, Wendy Hickman, Claire Hudson, Julie Keetley, Nick Kirkman, Martin Lombardi, Robert Marshall, Lisa Martin, Neil Martinson (Bamber), Robert Martinson, Debbie Mason, Dave McGrath (Graffy), Kevin Munn, Peter Nicholson, Debbie Nunley, Giuseppe Onerati, Jedda Owusu, Sue Parker, Gary Pearce, Chris Richards, Alan Ridley, Dale Rolfe, Vicky Ross, Gail Searcy, Antony Slade (Grandad),
Mitchell Slade, Carl Smith (Foggy), Richard Smyth, Steve Spooner, Scott Stansfield, Susan Smith, Helen Swift, Paul Taylor, Stephanie Thornton, Jane Thrall, Andy Todd (Toddy), Glenn Towle, (Teggsy), Andrew Walker (Bruce), Jill Watson, Phillip Williams, Anne Wood, Joanne Wright, (Lefty) and Alison Wyatt.