Headmasters Rule OK!

Martyn White reminisces about his old school.

We thought that our Headmaster was too strict. Thinking back I realise that he wasn’t.

Bewerley Street School. Photo courtesy of leodis.net
Bewerley Street School. Photo courtesy of leodis.net

I went to Bewerley Street County Primary School. The class that I was in was the last one to go through from Junior One to Senior Four.

Mr.Blakeborough was the Headmaster. At the time most of us didn’t think much of him. We thought him too strict with us. It was in the mid 1950’s when I started there. The school was in the middle of many terraced streets.

We were fortunate in having a large playground, in the corner of which stood the school caretaker’s house. In those days the school didn’t close for a bit of snow, we were expected to get there in most weathers. If the school boiler broke and there was no heating, we sat in our coats.

We looked forward to playtime and the time after dinner. Most of us stayed to school dinners as our parents were out at work. Sport of one sort or another took up most of our time. Rugby in the correct season. We had the heaviest scrum in the schools league. If you didn’t play rugby “Old Blakey” as we called the Head, would say go over there with the other shape ball and play the girls game.

In the cricket season, we used to go to organised games and practice games on what was known as “Farmer Ward’s” field near Middleton Woods. But we used to play cricket casually in the playground. “Old Blakey’s” rules were in force and the teacher on playground duty made sure that they were enforced. If the ball went out of the playground without a bounce, you were “out”. This was to ensure that we didn’t annoy the people that lived nearby. The next player came and had a go. For a catch that bounced off a wall, it had to be caught one handed.

Every now and then, Mr.Blakeborough would appear in Senior Four, the top class and ask for two “volunteers”. Just who was picked depended on his whim. They would be sent for a walk to a nearby location, told to have a look round and report back to him.

He encouraged us to have an enquiring mind, to use the school library. If we couldn’t find what we needed, we where expected to enquire politely.

For those who, for whatever reason, couldn’t read or write well he personally took special lessons for them. Good manners were important to him. So was learning slightly different things from the standard.

We had a teacher who was a violinist in the Leeds Symphony Society. He taught many of us how to play the recorder, and once or twice got some of us tickets to hear the concerts at Leeds Town Hall.

At the age of 66 I can look back on school days with good memories. I wish that I could thank him for the things that he taught us that weren’t strictly schoolwork. I suppose that in a way he was strict, but not too strict. In his own way he did well with us.

A few years ago, I was sad to read of his death. In fairness to him, we didn’t realise what a good job that he did.


This article was written by Martyn White using our Community Reporters website

3 Replies to “Headmasters Rule OK!”

  1. Very interesting post, Martyn, which brought back lots of memories.

    My first memory of school at 5 – after saying I wanted to go home and my older sister being sent from another class to tell me to stop moaning, I was staying and to stop disturbing her – she was very busy – was watching the head teacher caning naughty boys in front of the entire school at assembly… As a deterrent it certainly worked with me.

    Good to see ‘Old Blakey’ was sound on the sporting front! I went to school in London but we had similar rules re: cricket. Over the fence was 6 and out and we had a catch with one hand after one bounce rule. On the volunteer front I can remember being ‘volunteered’ to walk 2 miles across inner city London to deliver a letter to another school. I don’t think any risk assessment whatsover was carried out!

  2. I have just read what Martyn White has written. I went from the infants in Hunslet Hall Road.

    I started school when I was 5 years old. Edgar Meeks was the headmaster then. Miss perry was a teacher at Bewerley Street along with Miss Grayson and Frank Ingle. I left when I was 15, that was when the school leaving age was lifted from 14 to 15.

  3. Around 1952 when I was 12 I was being taught by Frank Ingle who I thought was an unpleasant individual obsessed with his own importance. In an Art Class one day I was drawing a soccer team with hooped jerseys, only to be set upon and hit with the open hand on my back and shoulders by the misinformed Frank Ingle while shouting that it was only rugby league players who play in hooped jerseys hadn’t the fool witnessed Celtic who play in hooped jerseys together with I am sure many other teams. However assuming Ingle was right he had no business or entitlement to lay a hand on a pupil whatever the misdemeanour never mind the simple error that he incorrectly assumed I had made on that fateful day. I would welcome the opportunity to meet this idiot now and ask for an apology.

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