A Memorial Site
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Perhaps the only surviving expression of Adwick Uniform

As every other CQD site before the UK referendum this website uses a CSS style sheet based on the former Adwick School’s uniform. The style sheet is still retained on the Archive for the Yorkshire Viking Blog and on this memorial site. If you are a former Adwick School pupil and would like to use the WordPress theme for your own blog, do get in touch!

My personal twin blogs have now dropped the Adwick Theme. The reasons for this are explained on the Archive for the Yorkshire Viking page.

Philosophical

Soured Memories of Sweet Sixteen

This post is in response to a writing challenge on The Daily Post. You can see this here http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/only-sixteen. It also marks the first anniversary of Adwick School’s demolition. The post refers exclusively to Adwick School, and (save for the poetic reference to others taking the throne) not to the two institutions that subsequently succeeded it.

That last seat of childhood authority is no more. One year on, I still struggle believing it! That our prestigious institution could so unceremoniously fall to the dust beggars belief.

Sweet Sixteen - in school uniform

Sweet Sixteen – in school uniform

For in truth our Emerald Queen was gone long before her ruined courts were razed. And I find that so hard to comprehend. What in my day was revered if though in dread, these days is scarcely remembered save in contempt. Therefore though those buildings be but newly gone, our world therein is much that longer lost.

While these ruins of our youth remained, they were defamed by those that came after us. A generation that had not seen the glories of our day, remembered them for other things. I too saw her slow decline, I watched her uniform in decay, and I heard of the infamy of her latter day. I still sighed when others took her throne. It was over then, not years later when the buildings went.

Ruins of Adwick School

My childhood world in ruins. Photo: Gerald Sables.

Those that scorn the memory of the Emerald Queen could not have known how once it was, and verily I remember her latter crew. They wore the uniform but as they did please; we were never once given the choice! Yet for all that we rebelled, secretly we admired the place – that final seat of absolute authority over the devices and desires of our own hearts! This is the greatest difference between us and them, and now and then!

That it should have ended the way it did feels so unreal. In my day the uniform was not for negotiation, and whatever I said I loved its distinctive colours of green, and white, and black. I said otherwise when I was a pubescent sixteen year old. Like my protestations against wearing a uniform, I celebrated my (so-called) independence the day I finally left – in both cases an attempt to assert myself in the adult world I entered, yet neither were seriously really meant.

Then came those after us, and they did mean those things they said. Among them those that said they would willingly press the button, that day our school came down. Then my foolish words came back to haunt me. The Emerald Queen was dead.

The Emerald Queen is my poetic name for our demolished school

The Emerald Queen

Alas thou mine emerald queen, whose royal robes were black, and white and green – whose Courts of great austerity were in those fields between, and wast of all with reverence seen, of whomsoever thine had been!

Alas! How thou art brought unto the ground, our palace ruined, thy name renowned! and nought is left of all we had: all is gone and where is found, that love, and fear, and awesome dread?

Alas, thou art gone, and thou art dead, despised of those who never knew thee then (nor us for whom thou wast our head)!

 

School Graveyard

Senior Wing

A beautifully calm, yet hauntingly eerie picture of where my school once stood! Picture Janet Roberts

Some photographs capture something “more”. On the face of it, this is but a picture of some trees. For us who went there, however, it is the grave of Adwick School. Here stood our senior wing.

There is a wistfull atmosphere. Black and white amplifies this. That maybe entirely subjective, but I am not the only one to pick up on it. There is something “more” to this picture than meets the eye.

Trying to define this something “more” is like chasing a rainbow. The moment you approach it, it moves further away from you. Yet I am not speaking of associations that only we who came here can know about; there is something more, that makes even those who didn’t, to describe it as “haunting”.

For me (qualifying therefore what I write precisely with feedback on my earlier post both from people who did know what used be here and those who have absolutely no personal association with the place) this is both unsettling and very beautiful all at the same time. “Haunting” would therefore be a fitting description.

I have recently received some pictures not only of what used to be here (and off camera in the likewise demolished main building further up to the right), but from our world and time that long have passed. Unfortunately I cannot post these, because they are not for further publication. However, I can tell you they are no less poignant.

Most of these pictures are in black and white. Yet that seems to highlight any associations one actually might have. I do not even notice the absense of colour: that something “more” seems to allow my brain to “see” what is not there!

I find myself transported backwards in time. Once our uniform was very smart and characteristic. Before its lamentable decline in the nineties it was very strictly enforced. As I see my uniform thus again, it is as though I am standing there among those pictured. It is so incredibly “virtual” an experience – to use a modern expression. Yet again the black and white picture but re-enforces this experience!

I am utterly captivated by the photography. This was the world I knew! Yet I cannot bear it too long. That something “more” is unsettling as well. It is a world that has forever gone.

With respect to the hauntingly beautiful, yet eerie picture shown above, we are looking at a graveyard. What now is but some trees and grass, was once our childhood world alas!

 

Queen Spring

An allegoric poem from 1984, with some revisions. It is set to music. I shall publish the melody shortly after making some revisions to that.

demolished

Our demolished school

King Summer now doth take Spring’s Throne
For years we longed to see this day!
And yet, as our Queen now retireth alone,
I beg that she do not go away!

Ye thought my rule so hard and cruel,
Yet now thou pleadest me to stay,
Despising my Laws whilst under my rule….
What wonder is this, good friend, I pray?

And now I go, nor can I stop!
King Summer reign must many years:
Yet hearken thee this – when the leaves start to drop,
Your Queen shall return to wipe thy tears!

What toil hath been to us since then,
When Spring so took retirement,
God speed her return to our land once again*,
In Wonders across His firmament.

*pronounced “a – genn”. This was written in Doncaster, and is one of the few demonstrable cases were that particular dialect can be seen in what I write.

Now Is Time

Vestbygd

Philosophical Reflections

 Truth is not afraid of shedding tears,
And those who will not lament past regrets,
Must face by far their greatest fears;
Laden so by many debts,
from youth misspent, and sins before,
These cry too late, and God implore,
Who now would not, and Him ignore,
So do not live but for this now:
As much your nature will allow,
Repent that wrong done in the past,
knowing they most surely lie,
deceive themselves who will not cry,
And lose in lies their lives at last.

 

The Void

Senior Wing

This was where the senior wing of my school once stood. Photo J. Roberts

 

Today I was sent some pictures of where my school once stood. It is completely gone!

The photograph above was where our senior wing used to be. Here the buildings were in the worst condition. They were also very last to come down, and I have it on good authority that once they began to demolish the main building of this particular wing, it then collapsed of its own accord.

Today this is all that is left of our bustling school world. In the autumn of my life I am looking at the grave of my youth!

It is important to point out that even had the campaign to save our school’s main building succeeded (what in my time was the junior wing at the other end of the school complex), these buildings were too far gone to be saved. Nobody seriously had suggested saving them. Since we had differing opinions though about that campaign, I am glad that I have been sent this particular photograph. It has all the peacefulness of the graveyard it has become.

It is undoubtedly an improvement aesthetically – at least as long as the developers don’t now decide to build yet another housing estate upon it; but for those of us who grew up here it is an empty, aching void. The silence, to use the cliché, is deafening.

Alas O Emerald Queen!

This poem was written as the last bricks of my school were being levelled to the ground. Adwick School is here poetically referred to as “The Emerald Queen”.

Emerald Queen

Alas thou mine emerald queen, whose royal robes were black, and white and green – whose Courts of great austerity were in those fields between, and wast of all with reverence seen, of whomsoever thine had been!
Alas! How thou art brought unto the ground, our palace ruined, thy name renowned! and nought is left of all we had: all is gone and where is found, that love and fear and awesome dread?
Alas, thou art gone, and thou art dead, despised of those who never knew thee then (nor us for whom thou wast our head)!

 

A Brighter Dawn Is Breaking

You notice it every day. It is lighter.

bright sun

The bright morning sunshine outside where I live.

In three weeks, we shall no longer have the honour of having shorter days than most other people – for let us face it not many people live in the Arctic North. As incredible as it seems, we shall have longer days. Indeed within five weeks, the night will be vanishing altogether!

I cannot help but make comparisons with the new day for the community in which I grew up. What was my school has finally been closed, and demolition has already begun. Perhaps I should say that it has according to the local paper; one of my sources in Woodlands and Adwick informs me that the only thing done so far is the erection of fences to keep away the curious public. Nevertheless the old has now passed as surely as our Polar Night.

Port

Norway gets lighter and brighter. The Equinox is near.

As amazing as the 24 hour daylight here, the news that there children lined up outside their new school several hours before their first school day began – just so they could be the first to get a glimpse of their new school. Pupils were amazed at the freshness, newness and cleanness of the building. Such a positive response, it must be said, is a credit to the successor school, and says a lot; sadly it also says a lot that ours could not command such adoring praise.

Nevertheless, what is new to them will one day be old. The worn out buildings that are now coming down were as exciting to me, in my day, as the new school is to today’s generation. Seeing the pictures of those old buildings that have been sent to me this last year confirms only one thing: the world I knew has long since gone. I do not want to remember Adwick School as an old building that is tired, but for that equally exciting brighter dawn of life it once represented.

Lødingen town

Houses bask in the bright sunshine and snow.

I meanwhile can thank the Lord for the beauty of the nature around me, and the day that is today…. and the time that is now.

 

The Beginning And The End

The Polar Night in the Arctic - taken at one o'clock in the afternoon. Monday 10th December 2012

The Polar Night in the Arctic – taken at one in the afternoon. Monday 10th 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.

Old Adwick School now. 33 years ago, Monday 10th December 1979 this was where I was starting a new school.

Old Adwick School now. 33 years ago, Monday 10th December 1979 this was where I was starting a new school. Now these buildings are worn out and coming down in the New Year.

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!

Paying their last respects. Former pupils of the Percy Jackson Grammar School and Adwick School outside the historic main building this Saturday. Thanks to Janet

United in a wish to honour the past, and paying their last respects to our old school. Former pupils of the Percy Jackson Grammar School and Adwick School outside its historic main building this Saturday. A great thank you to Janet Roberts for sending the group photograph.

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!

Bitter Sweet

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 Corridor

This really freaked me out. The last time I stood here was in 1981, when I was sixteen years of age.

This really freaked me out. The last time I stood here was in 1981, when I was sixteen years of age.

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”…

Foreboding

To me there is a sinister sense of foreboding to all the images. This is not my childhood world - it is its empty shell.

There is a sinister foreboding to all the images. This is not my childhood world – it is its empty shell.

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

This was where we waited for the school bus home at the end of school. It used open out on to a field. Now it is boxed in.

This was where we waited for the bus home at the end of school. It used to open out on to a field. Now it is boxed in.

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.

The Day Thou Gavest Lord Has Ended

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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.”


Main Story

This was once my world. Every school building you see here will be completely demolished.

This was once my world. Every school building you see here will be completely demolished.

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.

Adwick School

My school as it used to be – surrounded on both sides by two large fields. This field is already gone, now the site of the new academy. A question remains for the other, and the grounds of my old school when demolished.

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.

No!

Adwick School

My school as it used to be – surrounded on both sides by two large fields. This field is already gone, now the site of the new academy. A question remains for the other, and the grounds of my old school when demolished.

I really miss my mum. In true Yorkshire style, if she said “no” she meant just that. That didn’t mean “later”, “after negotiation”, or anything other than those two letters put together. It meant “no”!

For a whole year this blog has been covering the rebuild of Adwick School, or “Academy” as they now like to call it. From the outset I was clear that I could not support the campaign to save my old school simply for the sake of it. Moreover whilst I of course have a certain wistfulness over its demise, I have praised the design of the new place because I think it is very impressive, as well as better suited to the needs of those who live there today. Nevertheless certain conditions were stipulated for the project to proceed. That these have now been dispensed with shows that for some people a “no” clearly doesn’t mean a “no”….

It has recently been reported in the Doncaster Star that the school no longer needs to reinstate its playing fields. A lot of people are quite angry about this. The argument seems to be that the facilities of the new academy are so good that compared to the old school, with its two playing fields, that what is on offer will be “better by far”. However, this misses an essential point.

Firstly no one is denying that the area of open green playing field has, and will be reduced. For one the new academy, parking, and gymnasium are all built on one of the old fields – as indeed is the new community school too. Now they are going to build a teacher training college by the side of the new academy as well, making still less green space. Yet we read from the above article that the academy isn’t going to be using the area where our demolished school once stood (and by implication) the second lower field.

This raises some very disturbing questions. For my part, I am very glad that I no longer live there. Open space is hardly a problem here in Norway. However, when I was growing up in England, and navigated daily through the maze of streets and housing estates, it was something of a relief to see the expanse of open space either side of my school. Whichever way you approached it, it was bang in the middle of two open fields. I don’t think many consider how important this is for people who do not live in the country as we are fortunate to do over here.

Already then, this space has been reduced, and it is going to be further reduced. Yet we are told that the grounds are not going to be reinstated as playing fields. That begs the question what they are going to be used forWhen I read that the planning committee accepted that the grounds could be reinstated at a later date, this seems also to open the possibility that they might not. Even if no-one has any plans to redevelop the area for housing today, if the area is allowed to grow wild it will become unsightly and perhaps that will be the next proposal.

Following the English news by radio, I know that the selling of school fields for redevelopment has been an issue – not in this case but generally. So if one screws the clock back a year, to the time when permission was first being sought for the project, the question is whether people might have objected if they had been told that the area of playing fields would be taken away or very much reduced. To put that another way, if this stipulation had not been given, whether people would at all have put up with what was being proposed.

I think that the answer is “no”. Now the new buildings are almost in place, somebody wants to change the goal posts. There must be a lot of people who feel that the academy got the go-ahead on false pretences. That is why a “no” should mean “no”, not “perhaps” or “later”…

I am glad I no longer live in the Adwick area. It seems that the values I was brought up with have changed a little.

A Tale of Two Schools

Snowman

A snowman waits to welcome me to Vestbygd School

Today I was out at Vestbygd. It’s a little village 45 kilometres (or 28 miles) away from the municipal centre of Lødingen.

As you can see, the winter has arrived. The white stuff came earlier this week. It makes for very demanding driving, since yesterday it rained, and now the temperature hovers around zero. On my journey I saw two big lorries that had got stuck.

The Albino Moose

This albino moose has stood in the foyer of Vestbygd School since the last time I was here, some 18 years ago

Fortunately I arrived at the school safely, being welcomed by the year’s first snowman. The school brass band is putting on the musical When the Robbers Came to Cardamom Town, and I am playing the piano. Today we had a rehearsal from ten o’ clock until five.

Rehearsal at Vestbygd School

Rehearsal at Vestbygd School

Because I used to work here between 1994 and 1998, it was a strange feeling. It is almost as time has stopped still. Yet like my own school in England, this school is marked for demolition. Actually, the decision was deferred last week, but suffice it to say that this is how things are now looking.

In the breaks between our rehearsal, I walked around the school, and the experience was rather surreal. This is the one place in Norway with a connection to my own soon-to-be-demolished school. I took two of its pupils in 1997 to Adwick School. Moreover, I realized that my first meeting with Vestbygd School was this very weekend in October eighteen years ago. I had been on a youth camp with the church, and we had all slept at the school from Friday to Sunday. When the band ate pizza during our lunch break from rehearsal, I realized that the last time I was in the kitchen there was indeed on that camp!

The School Eating Area

School Kitchen: Eating Area. The last time I was here was in 1994!

If, as now seems likely, the school goes the way of Adwick, it is for very different reasons. Vestbygd School was built at a time when there were some 150 children there. Today there are about 23. This means that, for the council that is already cash-strapped, the buildings are just too expensive. However, their proposal to move the old people out the old people’s home and move the children and nursery there has stirred local feelings…

Still, it seems odd that at the time when my former school in Doncaster is now entering its final days, the one school that has a connection to it here might also go the same way. I shall keep you posted!

The Decline of Adwick’s Uniform

Yes I still do have my school tie... :)

The Adwick School Tie (defunct)

Preface – Old Article from 2000

The final seat of authority in childhood, my last school has (to my thinking) acquired an aura of mystique. As I have commented in another post before they were demolished, its old buildings were all that remained of a world that has since passed.

Trying to see when that world actually ended is a heavy exercise in the existential! Of course at the simplest level, it ended at about three o’clock on Thursday, 21st May 1981. That was the day before I was supposed to leave, but for fear of some unpleasant things that were rumoured for the 22nd May itself I had decided not to bother going in that last day. On this final afternoon, I thought I was being very brave “twagging” the very last period, in order that I could slip out unnoticed well before the school bell, and hiding out in my final minutes completely unnoticed in one of the music department’s practice rooms!

Yet of course, I am talking about something more than this. For in the immediate aftermath of my schooling, even the first two years after I had left, I did not think that Adwick School had become any different from the school I had known. It was still the place I used to go to, and nothing more. Eventually, as my own childhood began to recede into time, I began to see my school in more nostalgic terms.

At this time I still had active contact with people in that area, and between the years 1985 and 1988 I first noticed some changes to the uniform that I had worn. This was when I observed pupils leaving the school at the end of the day. Those changes were not very large ones. Yet for the first time there then was a clear distinction between that time I remembered and the school world I saw now.

In 1988 I took up a place at the former Polytechnic of Huddersfield. Sometimes I should return by bus at the weekend. This invariably passed Adwick School just as school was ending. In my years at Huddersfield, I thus noticed the continuing changes to what had once been a very smart uniform. By then it was seeming far less strictly observed, and the overall changes were much more noticeable.

Having emigrated from the United Kingdom in 1991, I was to have yet one more experience of the school world at Adwick. This was in 1997, when I travelled back there with two Norwegian school children. One of them, indeed, borrowed my old school tie, and they were enrolled at the school for half a day. However, by now many pupils were not wearing the uniform, or only parts of it, and I had the impression even then that its days were drawing to an end.

In 2000, a year before my father passed away, I wrote a small article concerning this on my home page – the blog wasn’t invented back then! This article was subsequently revised after my father had died, and indeed after the uniform had finally been replaced. In 2002, Adwick School was renamed Doncaster North Technology College, and together with the new branding for the school, the old uniform was replaced by a modern dress code.

I am aware that the older Doncaster North Technology College, which itself has now been superseded by the new Outwood Academy Adwick, called their dress code a “uniform”. However for the purposes of this discussion, I prefer to restrict the term “uniform” to a certain type of  school clothing. The technology college’s “uniform” is far better described as a dress code for these purposes. Nevertheless, from what I can gather about the new academy, there is once again a uniform, as smart and strictly applied as ours in my days. That is however completely different to the green, white and black uniform we wore at Adwick School.

I am republishing here my earlier article, after its revisions in 2002. Take yourself back therefore to that year. These are my observations regarding the decline and ultimate loss of the Adwick School uniform…. They are only my opinions, and in no way meant to be authoritative!

Note: this article was first published in year 2000, when the last vestiges of school uniform still existed at Adwick High. The only changes made are therefore those of tense. For example, “traces of its distinctive look could still be seen” was originally “traces of its distinctive look can still be seen”.

The article is otherwise republished exactly as it was first put out on the Internet, below.

Observations on School Uniform

Adwick School had a classical English school uniform. Traces of its very distinctive look could still be seen as recently as 2001, when formerly speaking the school still retained it. However by then, there could be little doubting its decline, compared to its heyday in the seventies.

That this is so I can vouchsafe myself. When I was a pupil at the end of that period, I did know about the practice of wearing the school tie in such a way that only a tiny bit could be seen poking out of the knot. However, this was then fairly new, regarded as scruffy appearance, and the vast majority of us still wore it conventionally. Indeed house tutors would upbraid us if our ties and uniform were not neatly, and correctly worn.

me

Me! In Glorious Adwick School Uniform!

This photograph to the right admittedly shows my tie in a position that would have earned such an admonishment. Yet it was taken, as I recall, at the very end of the school day, and the “slack” tie shows the photograph to be genuine: schoolboys did not as a rule pay too much attention to detail unless teachers made them. What the photograph does clearly show is the school tie with the correct knot (as opposed to the “scruffy” versions described above that later became both fashionable and, indeed, the rule rather than the exception).

Documented too are all of the uniform’s items waist up, with the sole exception of the school scarf. Had I been conscious of the photograph’s ultimate historical value to this discussion, I would definitely have taken my scarf along with me – but such things had of course never dawned on me when this photograph was taken. I was no doubt counting down the minutes to the bell (for home-time).

The photograph being old has required a good deal of editing on the computer, and this is the best I can do. I have been able to bring the green back to the blazer and tie (which had all but gone on the original), but to make this green colour like it was when the photograph was taken would unfortunately make me look rather “seasick” in the face.

Shown too is the distinctive black V-neck, which disappeared in the eighties shortly after I left school. The green and white colours of the school’s green, white, and black scheme made two stripes at the “V” of the neck and at the arms, which were folded in at the ends – though I cannot now remember how those stripes were, whether they were right at the point where the hands came out, or further up the fold.

Not shown is the equally distinctive Adwick School logo on the breast pocket. This took the form of bold black initials “AS” on a white background that filled the square of the pocket. Below this was a so-called “flash” that denoted the House (pupils belonged to Priestley, Delius, Rhodes or Moore Houses).

The Priestley flash I wore was yellow, the others were blue, green and red – if my memory serves me correct, though I cannot remember which colour corresponded to which House. The name of the House was written in clear black letters over this colour background.

The Adwick School Sixth Form also had a uniform. That was certainly not in existence a year ago, and given that I did not stay on after 16 years at school, I regret that I cannot remember the details of how exactly it was composed.

The Uniform Begins to Change

Not long after my departure from Adwick in 1981, the uniform began to change. The neighbouring school, Don Valley High School lost its uniform entirely (at least in the stricter sense of the word “uniform” required for this discussion), and although the Adwick uniform remained times were a changing.

Between the years 1985 and 1986, I observed that the first casualty of these changes was the V-neck pullover. The majority of children were now wearing plain black V-necks, without the colour stripes at the “V”. These would be clothes bought from ordinary shops, and not specially tailored uniform clothes. A very few did have the old patterns, and I suspect these were children from the more well to do areas of Sprotborough – which was still a part of Adwick’s catchment area at that time.

The V-neck became completely discarded soon afterwards. This happened in the early nineties, and by 1997 when I visited Adwick with two schoolboys from where I now live, I was told that the V-neck was still “there” theoretically – but nobody would be seen dead wearing it. Indeed I noticed how, despite the cold September air, pupils would go to school with but the protection of a shirt, their designer winter coats open.

The latter indeed, in all kinds of sundry colours now masked the look of uniform, at least when the children were outdoors. I had observed moreover that the blazer too seemed to be on the way out: the answer seemed to be to go to school without it, with an outer designer coat for protection from the elements. At the time of my visit, though, there were still plenty blazers to be seen, but those dropping them altogether were quite noticeable.

The tie was by now either not worn at all, or worn with most of the tie tucked into the shirt, and only the tip end showing out of the knot. I had the distinct impression then that the uniform’s days were numbered.

As good as all girls now wore trousers – not that there were anything wrong with that I hasten to add – but because these girls had so many colour alternatives, and because of the outer clothing that everybody wore over the uniform, the whole point did seem to be lost. The uniform no longer existed in the strict sense, though a weakened impression of uniform did admittedly hang on for dear life.

Important note: this article was revised in 2002. Outwood Academy Adwick has now reintroduced school uniform. This is a very smart one too, using purple and black with an earthy yellow stripe. See the official website for the academy. This article was written at a time when uniform (as I prefer to understand the word) had been abolished. I did not foresee a time it would ever return again, as it has with the academy. That is therefore the context of the final paragraphs below.

It was therefore, regrettably only a matter of time before someone took the by then inevitable step of abolishing the Adwick Uniform. At the end of the day, a uniform is the expression of the community that wears it; and when there is no consensus for keeping it, no amount of force will save it. There is a world of difference between the last dying vestiges of Adwick Uniform and its living, proud expression of the former generation.

In our day, the uniform fulfilled a role, and both we and our parents wanted it. Yet to be fair too, that was a bygone age, with different values. Today the community had to make a choice: it had either to abolish school uniform altogether or put its weight behind the concept. Clearly it has chosen to do the first.

Now the Adwick uniform is history. It is my firm opinion that whatever the rights or wrongs of its abolition, the uniform is [also] important history. Children today and tomorrow should know about it, because it was an essential part of being a child in school for many generations. History is about how we understand ourselves, and with the demise of classical school uniform at Adwick, it is even more important to keep it living in historical discussions and study.

Description of the Older Uniform

Girls Green or grey skirt; otherwise as boys except blazer optional

Boys White shirt

School Tie (pictured) – green, white, black diagonal stripes

Black trousers

Green Adwick Blazer

Black V-neck – green and white stripes at “V” and arms

In addition came the optional school scarf. This had parallel stripes of green, white, and black – though interestingly the black colour band was a little larger than the green colour band. The white band came in the middle, and like the stripe on the tie was the smallest.

The school scarf was never widely used. I had one, but unfortunately I have no pictures of it.

The school tie I still have today. It is pictured at the top.

Main Story In Both Blogs

Old School

This is where the last part of my formative years were spent – the main building of the former Adwick School soon to be demolished, along with the other buildings there. © Copyright Richard Rogerson and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Since my Norwegian blog was launched last year, I have maintained a twin blog system. I have one blog for English, another for Norwegian.

I intend continuing thus. The system has served my blogging needs very well, and further allowed me to be much more radical in my Norwegian (since May this year I have favoured Nynorsk over the more usual Bokmål). Nevertheless the matter relating to my former school merits coverage in both blogs. Because of this, I have also made an exception in just this case alone, and you will find an English translation of the original Norwegian post on the Norwegian blog itself.

The translation is but that, and is therefore on a separate page. The alternative would have been to put the translation on this blog, as I have before. However, in this case both blogs will be covering what effectively is the end of an important part of my formative years. That is why I feel I have to cover these developments on my personal blogs. It is “front page” stuff in a sense.

Both blogs will therefore continue with their own separate identities, but the Norwegian one will also cover this story from its own angle.

Prisoner On Death Row

Adwick

Download all the old Adwick icons as an icon library by clicking here.

Thou shalt become our enduring myth. Reason there is we still remember thee – if only in contempt!

Soon shalt thou be gone. Some quip*,

they would like to press the button

when they finally despatch thee to eternity.

Methinks getting rid of thee will be much harder. Thou wilt haunt our collective memory,

long after thou hast gone.

Thou shalt be our Titanic; thy years our own Atlantis,

A story we are never finished with,

A legend living on within,

Powered by what we will not own:

our conscience and our loss.

Thou shalt be our lasting myth. Live thou long when thou art gone!

An Ode – upon the plans to demolish my old school

Though I walked upon your grounds
strolled again The Covered Way,
Still should I be “Out of Bounds”,
far from you that made our day:
You are not these buildings where
we were once a part of you
(rather what we now see there,
is the shell of what we knew);
Though a thousand years these stood,
And though so long all we live could,
You are gone! All else is VAIN:
in the present we remain;
Therefore so let us now live!
And living learn our past forgive,
Freed from all that ties us down –
be our lives your great renown!
Not as buildings doomed to go,
nor as memories you be lost,
You are gone! It is not so
their loss you can ever cost!

Note: “Memories” is read with two syllables, “mem’ries”.

This particular post is in response to the decision to demolish the old main school building that used to be the Percy Jackson Grammar School, and in my day Adwick School. I was a pupil there from 1979 to 1981. I shall be blogging more on this within the week. Please watch this space.

Reference: http://www.percyjacksons.co.uk/History/history.html