The Sunderland school which produced a football legend, stage star, three mayors and two justices of the peace

Hendon Board School Sunderland in early 1900s.
Hendon Board School Sunderland in early 1900s.
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Old Hendon Board School evokes fond memories among many of its ex-pupils.

The evidence is there in abundance in both the written and oral archives of the Sunderland Antiquarian Society some stretching back to the very early 1900s.

Wee Georgie Wood in Bridge Street, Sunderland, in 1965.

Wee Georgie Wood in Bridge Street, Sunderland, in 1965.

And we have the society to thank for this feature looking at the history of the school.

Wearsiders may be unaware that the school can boast a number of well-known ex-pupils.

In January 1901, the infant headmistress, Miss Woolacott, welcomed two five-year old boys, George Bamlett and Danny Bew.

Danny eventually captained the Sunderland Boys’ football team and later became a professional footballer.

Certain places had strong links with the school including Mrs Roxby’s sweet shop where you had a choice of a large variety of ‘bullets’ providing you had a halfpenny.

Sunderland Antiquarian Society

He went on to make more than 200 appearances for Swindon Town whilst George went on to gain national fame in the world of entertainment under the name ‘Wee Georgie Wood’.

Many had fond memories of their days at the school.

Ex-pupils from the early 1900s recount the school tea which was arranged to celebrate the Coronation of King Edward VII, the hymns they sang and how they learned to count with the aid of beads on the abacus. Hymns recalled were Not a Bird That Doth Sing and Lord Thy Word Abideth.

At that time the headteacher of the Junior department was Miss Handy and other staff included Misses McLaren, Parnaby, Bowman and Belford.

Slates and pencils were sharpened on the stone plinth of the school in the playground. As the pupils moved through the school so books and pen and ink were introduced.

One of the teachers, Mr W.R. Rae, was known to the older boys as The Boss or The Gaffer. Others included Messrs Todd, Graham, Carter, Turner, Hogarth and Johnson.

Mr James Turner spent a lot of his time and money on the boys, organising the football team and excursions to historic places in the north.

He was a very stern man who seldom seemed to smile, but he loved poetry and taught the boys many poems which they had to memorise in full.

One of these was Longfellow’s Robert of Sicily. Another teacher Mr Carter preferred Byron and Wordsworth with pupils having to learn The Ocean and To May.

Certain places had strong links with the school including Mrs Roxby’s sweet shop where you had a choice of a large variety of ‘bullets’ providing you had a halfpenny.

Marbles were often played in the adjoining back lane and any resultant dirty hands would lead to trouble in class and the cane being used.

Nearby, Miss Budd’s shop sold items such as The Magnet, Gem, Union Jack and other boys’ papers.

Adjoining the school was The Burn, a piece of open land.

Occasionally part of this was taken over by Blooms with their salesman known locally as ‘Happy Jim’ who sold all types of cheap articles.

In those days of unemployment and no dole, children, some bare-footed, went to the docks café for a free dinner.

Hendon Board School gave the town three Mayors. They were George Ford (1938), James Turner (the teacher) (1937) and George Morgan (1950). There was also at least two JPs – W.R. Rae (the Headmaster) and Mr Ira Smith.

Horatio (Raich) Carter, who captained Sunderland to the 1937 FA Cup Final victory, was also a scholar at Hendon but he attended much later.

His parents kept the Ocean Queen Pub which had a figure-head outside like the prow of a sailing ship.

With pocket money being scarce, schoolyard games were cheap and simple.

There were lots of marble games, cigarette cards, buttons and football. Cigarette cards were varied and interesting and a good deal of swapping went on.

Weekends and holidays were spent roaming the docks, the Polka Hole, Hendon Dene, Tunstall Hill and annoying farmer Sammy Anderson of Barley Mow Farm.

Walking through the ‘Cundy’ from Hendon Burn to the sea holding a length of ‘tarry tow’ to light the way was another diversion. The Cundy was a large sewer pipe.

Those were the days!