Trip down memory lane for youngsters

Rockcliffe First School in Whitley Bay celebrating it's Centenary birthday with a concert and the pupils dressed in costume reflecting the periods the school has been open.
Rockcliffe First School in Whitley Bay celebrating it's Centenary birthday with a concert and the pupils dressed in costume reflecting the periods the school has been open.
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PUPILS took a trip back in time to celebrate a special anniversary – even dressing up to look the part.

Rockcliffe First School in Whitley Bay, officially opened its doors in May 1911 and last week it held a series of events to mark its centenary.

An Edwardian-themed fair was held on Saturday, with the school’s log books from the last 100 years being put on display for the first time.

From occupation by First World War troops to parental unrest over a new maths curriculum, the log books have been used by a succession of headteachers over the years to record events of importance.

The logs, each covering a period of one decade or two in the school’s history, have been transcribed by Year Four teacher Karen Robinson with the help of former Rockcliffe teacher and keen historian Peter Jackson.

And last Friday, pupils dressed in clothes covering the major eras of the last 100 years – including outfits similar to those their predecessors wore in 1911 – and held two concerts for invited guests.

Headteacher Sharron Colpitts-Elliott said: “Uncovering and transcribing the logs for the centenary fair has been a fascinating journey for us all.

“Visits to the school by students, university departments and teachers suggests that there was much more innovative work going on here over the years.

“As well as events of major significance, such as the requisition of the school by the military from 1914 to 1919, the logs also tell us about the day-to-day issues such as frozen pipes in the toilets, a temperamental heating boiler and a great deal of absence due to diseases such as measles, scarlet fever and diptheria.

“Thanks to the work of Karen Robinson and Peter Jackson, we were delighted to be able to share all of this at the fair.”

The log books pre-date the 1911 opening of the school, going back to 1906, a period when pupils were housed in temporary accommodation.

An entry for May 10, 1911, gives details of the school’s formal opening, with 307 children on the register that month.

On August 17, 1914, the school was closed for the outbreak of war, not opening again until September 1919.

During that time, pupils were transferred to Whitley North School – now Marine Park First – and Rockcliffe was used as a military base, at one point housing a machine-gun pointed out to sea.

In October 1939, the school was closed again due to the outbreak of the Second World War, reopening in November of that year once an air-raid shelter had been built.

Other fascinating entries include a day off to mark the birth of Prince Charles, the funeral of King George V, inspections of gas masks, and two pupils running away from school and later being found at the Spanish City.