School days and the football lads

Havelock Nursery School, Sunderland  1942 old ref number 5-524

Havelock Nursery School, Sunderland 1942 old ref number 5-524

SPORTING memories of a long-gone Wearside school are tackled today.

THE “rustic-style” buildings of Havelock School – named after Indian Mutiny hero Sir Henry Havelock – once welcomed generations of Wearside students.

And, while the classrooms, playing fields, science labs and gymnasium may be long gone, memories of the Ford Estate school live on through old photos such as the ones featured here.

“I started in the infants and went all the way through Havelock until I left as a teenager,” said former greengrocer and Vaux stable boy Jimmy Potts, who now lives in Penshaw.

“I really enjoyed football and played for the school team during my years there. I’ve kept these photographs from the 1960s and thought other former players might like to see them.”

Havelock School had its roots in the depression years of the 1930s, when the development of several new council estates around Sunderland sparked a desperate need for extra schools.

Work on what was originally known as Havelock Senior Council School began in 1935 and, just a year later, the £36,000 institution opened on September 8, 1936 – to great acclaim.

“It is the first of a group of schools designed to meet the needs of new housing estates,” the Echo reported. “This is an ambitious scheme which will provide all modern amenities.”

A site at the centre of the new Ford Estate was chosen for the school, close to the site of Sir Henry Havelock’s birthplace of Ford Hall – prompting the decision to name it after him.

Individual departments for 240 boys and 240 girls were built, with all lessons were strictly segregated. Extra space was also designated for future expansion if deemed necessary.

Further plans for a junior department, infants unit and special school were drawn up too, but these would not come to fruition until the early years of the Second World War.

Trees which were once part of the old Hall greatly enhance the entrance and the planting of shrubs is planned.

“It is single-storey, designed on the quadrangular principle. The walls have a rustic brick base, blending with the yellow roughcast – in keeping with the pleasant, rural surroundings.

“Accommodation provided for manual training, metalwork, craft work, elementary science and domestic science is all in accordance with the latest recommendations from the Board of Education.”

Havelock School, which drew students from across the Pallion and Hylton Road areas as well as the new Ford Estate, quickly proved exceedingly popular with Wearside parents.

Indeed, even as the doors to the new school opened in 1936, so plans were being drawn up to expand it – with new additions to include a high-tech gymnasium and swimming pool.

“More accommodation has already become imperative,” revealed the Echo. “The Education Authority will proceed with an extension as soon as possible.”

Thousands of girls and boys were educated in their own individual departments over the next four decades, with the school name changing over time to Havelock Secondary Modern.

The year 1967, however, saw the units amalgamated to form one school. Just eight years later, at the end of the summer term in 1975, Havelock Senior School closed for good.

“I joined the seniors in the early 1960s,” said Jimmy. “All the local lads round the estate went to the school, and football was our life. We played it all the time – everywhere!

“Mr Laverick was our football teacher – and he hasn’t changed a bit since those days. We had a pretty decent team and I played with some good lads. No-one went professional though.

“St Aidan’s were our rivals, as well as St Joseph’s and Bede. We had some good times playing football – we’d even play in the dark if we had to. There was not much else to do back then!”

l Do you have any old school photos you would like to share with Echo readers? Email Sarah Stoner at:


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