Alex Johnson, teacher at Whickham County School, Front Street from 1949-1962.
After nearly seven years of war I returned home, went to Training College and finally in September 1949 I began teaching at Whickham County School. The Headmaster was Mr Ron Kennedy, a perfect gentleman, and a friend of Mr. Maurice Chevalier, the famous French singer and actor.
The staff was made up of Mr. Emmerson, Mr. Kempton, Mr. Ruddick, Mr. Bramley, Mrs Winskell, Miss Hutchinson, Miss Harbit, Miss Longstaffe and Miss Veitch with Miss Boyd as Cookery Teacher. I was given the 10+B Class which I thoroughly enjoyed, as well as being Physical Education Master.
I loved the children of Whickham and loved teaching. I was seldom home straight after school for I ran a Puppet Club, an Adopted Ship Club, a Nature Club, Athletics and a Football Team.
The children made most of my puppets and I have them still today. All the pupils enjoyed our shows and we gave shows to hospital children. I would pile children into my Ford 10 Prefect, put the puppets into the boot of the car, balance the theatre on the top of the car and away we went. The star of the show (the witch) was Eunice Sharp.
I adopted a ship on behalf of the School It was M.V. Laganfield, an oil tanker, and although it gave me lots of work, it also gave the children lots of pleasure. We plotted the ship’s voyages on a large scale map in my classroom and the children wrote letters to the crew.
When it docked in the Tyne there was great excitement for we all went down to see it.
The crew were mostly Chinese and allowed the children to “take over�? the vessel. A lovely meal was always provided and the children took gifts to their favourite crewmembers.
The Chinese visited Whickham and the fathers of the pupils introduced the visitors to the delights of Whickham Social Club. Mr. Fatkin, the Chief Engineer, presented a model of the ship to the School, and it hung in the school for many years.
Every Christmas the crew made a collection amongst themselves and sent me a large sum of money to give the club members a party, which I did and which was always greatly enjoyed.
In 1955 I took a party of schoolchildren to Blankenberg in Belgium and in 1960 I took 50 children to Italy to Rome to see the Olympic Games and to have a seaside holiday in Rimini.
In 1993 we had a reunion perhaps one day we can have another?
To hear the full story of Mr. Johnson’s time at Whickham School you can buy the audio CD or cassette Miscellany of Memories Part 2, available now.