Affectionate recollections of 'dusty' era
Gateway College, the successor to Gateway Boys' School – one of the first technical grammar schools in the country – now occupies a splendid complex in Hamilton.
It's the college's third home and the only one custom-built for it. In fact, during its first 12 years of life, the Gateway occupied what is now the Newarke Houses Museum, where the creaking floorboards and ghostly winding passages were a notable feature.
Later, in 1939, the school moved to a Georgian-fronted building on the opposite side of the Newarke, in Fairfax Street.
In a 21st birthday edition of the Gateway magazine, dating from 1949, a distinguished old boy, R J Horrocks, looked back to the early days of the school.
SUNDAY OPEN BUFFET EAT AS MUCH AS U CAN £6.99PP & A LA CARTE...View details
Come & Try our Delicious Menu with an Amazing 15% off all Food Bills on a la carte menu only
Terms: Lebanese & Mediterenian Menu With An Amazing 15% Off Your Food Bills on a la carte menu only
Contact: 0116 2169184
Valid until: Sunday, May 26 2013
He quoted the chairman of the governors, Sir Charles Keene, who had remarked that the boys then "must have been quieter and better behaved than the present boys, otherwise the building would have inevitably collapsed" and then goes on to say it had found its true vocation as a museum.
Mr Horrocks clearly loved the old building and reminisces about school life.
He recalls the old prefects' room "which in those days was well isolated, almost a penthouse and approached only by a creaking staircase". Here, all sorts of antics took place, including writing "messages" and hiding them behind loose bricks in the chimney and booby-trapping the door with piles of books which, on one occasion, fell on the head of a senior member of staff instead of the prefect they were meant for."
There were memories of Mr Gregory's tuck shop where "one could buy a hot, creamy, jammy doughnut for a penny and for another penny, a cup full of sweets. These were surreptitiously sucked in the following lessons and led to much grief when they disappeared into the masters' capacious pockets. It was strongly suspected that Mr Gregory's profits were thus directly subsidised by the active co-operation of other members of staff!"
There was a "quiet dignity" about the dusty, old panelled rooms that inspired "deep affection". But the new wing, housing the science rooms, was disliked "pushing like an ugly finger into the yard and terminating in the final horror of the laboratories".
The writer adds: "The antiquity of our school in those days and its general air of hide and seek along corridors, is as indelibly planted in our memories as the subjects taught, the personalities of the teaching staff and our fellow pupils.
"It is as much of a privilege to have studied there as it is an honour to have taken part in the first years of a noble experiment."
"There is not an old boy of those years who does not retain some affection for the building itself, locked up and never spoken of except to those of common experience, who would refuse for one moment to admit his love for this place.
"Inevitably one asks oneself, 'will the present boys love the sterile corridors of Fairfax Street, as we older ones did the dusty tunnels of the Newarke?'"
I'm sure the thousands of boys that passed through those "sterile corridors" did learn to love it and may ask the same question of the shiny new building in Hamilton.