Monthly Archives: December 2012
“I’m going to mark its end, because somebody has to. I’m also going to speak well of the place too for the same reason.” – Adwick Style
I cannot tell you how strange it feels. Yesterday I received photographs from Saturday’s tour of Adwick School, and today I was sent more from a former pupil of the even older Percy Jackson Grammar School. As I meditated upon the beauty of the Polar Night here, I tried to take in these wistful reminders of my childhood whilst juxtaposing the thought that EXACTLY thirty-three years ago, I was starting my very first day there.
In fact this is more than juxtaposition in time. I’m now over here in Norway, and these events – both then and now – are way over the sea in England. Nevertheless I also feel a strange satisfaction in doing what I am. I have read many a spiteful comment about Adwick this last year, and feel that someone ought to point out that whatever its difficulties at its end, it was once highly respected. Someone has got to cover its end in a fitting way.
So my blog and I are like a kind of satellite, now with very little connection to the land that originally launched it, orbiting above and separated by a huge distance – yet transmitting a message that more should broadcast terrestrially. Fortunately I know that I am not entirely alone, though. After all none of the pictures I have of Adwick School these last days were taken by me! It may be ironic that a blog based in Norway has taken on this task (for that no one else has done so), but it is fitting that that very irony demonstrates the once great name our school once had.
Indeed there are former pupils living all over the world. One should also include those who went to the Percy Jackson Grammar School that preceded Adwick School. These people have been very active with reunions, and are a truly international bunch. We have perhaps differing views about the demolition of our former school, and the rebuild; but we are nevertheless united by our respect for where we grew up. Whatever our personal views, we do not rejoice at our school’s demise.
What has saddened me in the last year, then, has been to hear what I can only describe as contempt, on the part of certain people who still live in the vicinity, for what is and always will be a part of their own history. It saddens me that for these, it is also incredible that anyone should wish to mark the end…. yet in truth, they have never appreciated the worth of what now is lost.
I would rather not end this on a negative note. Therefore let me leave my point concerning those who have come with harsh words with the following observation. With the exception of one person whom I know personally, and who had a very difficult time at school, most of the comments I have read – on Facebook and similar sites on the Internet – come from relatively younger people. We are all aware of the problems the school faced in its final decade, before ceasing to be Adwick School. Yet let not that generation speak for mine!
So now we enter the very last days for what was our school, what was our childhood, and indeed what we for some time have been mentally preparing ourselves for. Seeing the photographs my friends have sent – I shall publish more (I already have permission for most of them) – I nevertheless can see that our old lady has become tired. The buildings, especially the old senior wing further down from the Percy Jackson building photographed here, show their age; and a certain melancholy pervades all the pictures I have seen.
Thank you everybody who has sent pictures to me. I wish especially to thank Janet Roberts for this wonderful group photograph. I have taken the liberty of posting it, but naturally I shall withdraw it if you would rather I do so. Adwick, there are many who have not forgotten thee!
or If These Walls Could Talk
Yesterday I felt a bit like someone working at a space agency. They’ll spend a fortune on electronic wizardry, send this up to some distant world – and then on the day that it arrives wait with increasing tension for the first pictures.
Yesterday two of my school friends returned to Adwick School. They had promised to take a lot of pictures, and to send them to me. Here at mission control (cleverly disguised as a three year old laptop) I awaited the first pictures from my school. I was not disappointed.
Yet it was a “bitter sweet” confirmation of what I have been writing about. One of my school friends had earlier remarked “if those walls could talk” when hearing about the decision to demolish our school. Thanks to Deborah Grace and Jill Jenkins, I was able to see places that I last saw over thirty one years ago at the age of sixteen. For all that I love the power of language, nothing can prepare you for seeing such images. As precious as I found them, they were equally unsettling.
The image that really sent shivers down my spine was this one. It is of a corridor on the top floor of the main school building. Looking at this is really “bitter sweet”.
The picture firstly disturbs me because this is not the childhood world that (we are feeling that) we have lost and are looking back upon when we visit the school. As I tried to say in my first poem, and article about the demolition of our school, that is lost in time and not in space. Therefore though you could “return”, you can never return, even if you stand in the exact place you left. This picture is therefore a little unsettling.
Then there is a pervading “darkness” to the image that I am not alone in sensing. Once again that is not something that I remember, nor would want to remember my school days for. Phillip Larkin expresses something of what I feel in his poem “Home Is So Sad“. Undoubtedly this is part of the story, but methinks there is something more. I say so precisely because I know that I am not alone in picking this up. The walls just might indeed be “talking”…
The picture above is nothing like, and yet exactly like my walk into school early in the morning. In those days you would come in from Windmill Balk Lane, and you would walk pass this point. Yet that was then. This is different – somehow. I am sorry if that sounds a bit like the “Saphire and Steel” science fiction series of the late seventies and eighties (I watched that as a schoolboy), but there is something quite spooky about the old school.
In an earlier generation, people would use one word beginning with “h” for what I am describing. Now that would be regarded as superstitious. So let it suffice to say that there is a certain oppressiveness to the place that cannot be conducive to education.
You certainly don’t need to look to the supernatural to explain it. The architecture of the school represents a different time as well, and expresses different ideals about society. Thus while my late father commented in 2001, that that place could not have had a coat of paint on it since I was at school, the “corridor” illustrates there is a limit to what you can do even if you had have spent a lot of money on it. It would still be that (by today’s standards) claustrophobic passage, and the classrooms would still fundamentally be those designed for the “top – down” approach to education where everybody passively sat in neat rows. This of course is a strong argument in favour of the rebuild.
On the other hand perhaps an objective explanation for the “dark” feeling cannot be found, and I have no intention here on speculating what else might lay behind it. For me it is enough that this is only the shell of where I spent my childhood. I want to remember my Adwick School as a very different place. Seeing it as it is now makes me feel that perhaps it is best for everybody that our alma mater now rest in peace.
The Place Is Different
Thirty-three years ago EXACTLY, on Sunday 9th December 1979, I was all exited and ready to go into Adwick School for my very first school day. At the end of that day, on Monday 10th December 1979, we queued up in this playground – which then opened up on to a wide field. Now it is completely “boxed in” by the new school buildings. Then I was happy and exited to be at my new place of education; now it is different, and whilst I still could have wished I could have attended yesterday’s tour, I think meeting my old friends would have been the high point. This place pictured is just “different”.
Since it is the anniversary day tomorrow, I’ll end this fairly long post here, and continue on the same theme for my next post. Thank you for the photographs Jill and Deborah.
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Today the children of Adwick’s yesteryear return to view that final seat of their childhood one last time. Adwick School! How are the mighty fallen! Many there are that speak hard words against thee, but I will remember thee in thy strength. Time was when people were proud of thee. Time was when thou hadst a formidable name!
“So be it, Lord; thy throne shall never,
like earth’s proud empires, pass away.
Thy kingdom stands, and grows forever,
till all thy creatures own thy sway.”
However we feel about it, the time is now upon us. Adwick School – or what was Adwick School – will not be with us much longer.
This has become the main story in this blog. Ever since the news broke last year, I have been covering it. In order to make it easier to load, I have now organised the posts about Adwick into three separate categories. Because this really is the final curtain for Adwick, I am now allowing the story to dominate the menu line. Those of you who want the ordinary categories can access these at the left column.
Earlier today the Norwegian sister blog dropped its use of the retro favicon (derived from the old school logo). It is now using the same symbol as this blog.
Nevertheless that older logo lives on in the new, and as I pointed out in an earlier post today you will look hard to find a more living expression of the classic Adwick School uniform – than what you are now seeing here. That is my intention.
The countdown to the disuse of what was Adwick School has a zero hour of 1500 hrs, 20th December. That is because I do not know the exact end of the school day. Nevertheless, I do know that that is the end of term, and that pupils will not be returning in the New Year.
“I’m going to mark its end, because somebody has to. I’m also going to speak well of the place too for the same reason.” – Adwick Style
I wish every one of you attending Adwick School tomorrow all the best. I should have liked to have been with you, but I am afraid that that was impossible because of distance, expense, and other commitments.
Readers of my two blogs will notice that as from today, the Norwegian sister blog is using the same favicon as the Yorkshire Viking. Until now it has been using a retro form of the “AS” symbol we had at Adwick.
The old form was also used on this blog until October this year. However, while the symbol has gone, it lives on in the new logo, and as far as this English blog is concerned the general layout is nearer to the former Adwick colour scheme than anything I have previously produced. As the school itself disappears, I would like to think that something of its spirit continues here.
In addition to the retro favicons, between the years 1990 and this year, I have graced everything from my music submissions when I was at Huddersfield to my Facebook Profile with a symbol I call the Violet Cross. This has also largely been replaced with the new logo, although I don’t rule out its use as a future favicon for one of these twin blogs.
This is just what has happened to my blog the last hour. Today is a record. Like I said on my previous post, somebody likes the new format – even if it is in “Adwick uniform”!
For all that our school has been disparaged (mainly by those who went there after I did), and for all that its former uniform was so poorly regarded that it was already mainly lost by the time it was abolished, someone clearly is impressed with the new look of this blog. If WordPress statistics are accurate, there has been a huge leap in my popularity.
I have never had the hundreds reported by my colleague Jon Blamire, but this blog has been doing a lot better since its re-brand this Autumn. It is not unusual now for me to have two or three “likes” a day – and since I changed the style sheet last night, barring anything other than my school colours in the main body of text, I have not only had six likes – but five people have followed me! This is in the space of 24 hours! More importantly, the site is pulling about 25-30 views a day, and the trend is going up. So I’m more than happy.
I have made no secret of the symbolism being used on this re-branded blog, so someone clearly likes the (school uniform) green, white, and black colour scheme (grey was an option for girls at Adwick). However shoddy some may have thought it, in my day it was smart. Those liking this blog must think the same of it now, reused for the colours you see here.
AS for you that don’t… I have already warned everybody that I will unashamedly be bringing Adwick School to the fore at this rather poignant time. I’m going to mark its end, because somebody has to. I’m also going to speak well of the place too for the same reason. I suggest you come back sometime next year!
Yesterday (4th December) had been an exciting day. I was going to Adwick!
We had won our fight against the school authorities. For a whole month, my parents had pulled me out of Don Valley High School – as they had over a year previously. Then they had failed to get me transferred to Adwick School. Now they had succeeded.
My uniform, which we had bought after our meeting with the headmaster, now lay ready downstairs in the dining room. I could not wait to put it on. Yet my first day wasn’t until Monday. In the meantime tonight was choir practice at Woodlands Church, as it was every Wednesday.
Just before I went there – I just had to celebrate and show them! – I sneaked on my Adwick School tie, and left the house for the church. And notice! Yes they did. I was now going to the same school those singing in the choir went to. I was now also one of them!
The Yorkshire Viking is the result of a re-brand earlier this Autumn. It has already been very successful. The name especially seems to have resulted in more hits.
The former logo of Adwick School and the older school uniform were used to form the design of the cover and the new blog logo. Now I’ve gone a stage further – the colour scheme of the entire blog is based on the same.
Still remaining are improvements to the links. Right now the links only show up as green. When I have made the css code and got it to work (have had a few “bugs” first time round), the links will be underlined.
Hope you like the only blog still in Adwick uniform!
Yesterday I received an e-post from a former pupil of the Percy Jackson Grammar School (which was the earlier name of Adwick School). I was informed that this Saturday my old school will be putting on a tour of its premisses – the last chance for those who went there to see where they grew up. During the Christmas holidays, the present academy will move out of the premisses and into its new buildings – and the older school buildings will all be demolished.
There is a Christmas Market and tour of the ‘Old School’ – the Former Percy Jackson Grammar School/Adwick School on Saturday 8th December 2012. The market begins at 10am and ends at 3pm and the tour starts at 12 noon – assemble in the reception area. This, as you may know, will be the last chance for many of us to visit our former school before it will be demolished next year. The new building for Outwood Academy, Adwick will be completed very soon and their use for the old buildings ended. They plan to move during the Christmas holidays – e-mail from former pupil.
Of course I should have liked to have gone. Unfortunately it is completely out of the question. Even if my economy allowed for a jaunt back to the United Kingdom (which it does not), I have other engagements this weekend. Nevertheless my heart will be there, and I have friends who are going. They have promised to take pictures. If they permit me to, I shall post some on this blog.
As I have maintained since the rebuild became known, although I do not oppose it – I think the new facilities are a great thing for today’s children – I will not be sending up the rockets the day the bulldozers move in. Some apparently feel differently. However, I think they are making a mistake. Whatever the failings of our teachers (I have a friend whose memories of school and Adwick in particular are not indescribably happy ones), our formative years are just that: they remain a part of us, and speaking for myself Adwick School will therefore remain a part of me.
On the other hand, I realize that it went from a school with a very good reputation, to one with serious problems, and I cannot speak for those who came after my generation…. one of whom has said that he would like to press the button the day it comes down! I still think that this marks the end of an epoch, and as such we should observe it with quiet dignity. Even if I think that they have done the right thing building new, it is still a sad day to lose the last seat of childhood authority.
Therefore as we now approach this end, Adwick School unashamedly comes to the fore of this blog. On this day, the fourth December 1979, my parents and I met the headmaster Mr Atherfold in the morning, and it was agreed that I should be transferred there. I remember that there was a system of coloured lights outside his room, saying when he was busy and when you could go in! In the afternoon my father took me to Cliffs in Doncaster, where I was fitted out with my Adwick School uniform. I was to start school the following Monday, 10th December. It seems a little strange that these dates fall exactly with the days this year, thirty three years later, just before it all comes to an end.
I should like to thank those who have promised to take pictures for me. Not everyone feels as comfortable with writing as I do, but words for visiting an old school just before it is demolished will always be found wanting. How do you express your feelings? When you see that place that once was “up there”, now very much at your own level? When what was strange and new is familiar, old and worn out? When that room you feared to approach is now just a mundane place?
So thank you to those who are going Saturday. I cannot exactly say enjoy yourselves, but I do hope that you will find the tour meaningful.
This month, with the closure of what was my school, 33 years after I was transferred there…. promises to be a little special.