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.
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.
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
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)!
Before my school was demolished, a full record of the building was made for posterity. That was a condition before the demolition might go ahead.
There are some inaccuracies in this report. I believe that it is wrong in citing 1999 as the creation of Doncaster North Technology College. According to my sources, the former Adwick School applied for status as a technology college in 2001, and although I am only inferring this from the fact that I know the conversion to have been made by September 2002 – I believe that Adwick School must have continued nominally at least until July 2002. I base that on the time needed to put in the new dress code.
Other errors have also been pointed out to me too. If you find some yourself, do let me know either by commenting on this post or else by contacting me using the “contact” option on this blog (go to the blog Lobby and you will find it there). An option for feedback on the school report is not currently there, but I shall have it added shortly. Do not be afraid to use the form, in the meantime, for this purpose.
You can find the assessment report online, and there is a permanent link to it on the archive menu here.
One of my contacts was kind enough to send me this information letter from our successor school, Adwick Academy. If you go to the Academy’s own website, you will see the official countdown to the New Academy – which for those of us who went to Adwick School (NDTC and Percy Jackson) means that that is when our old school is finally disused.
I thought that this were happening over Christmas. Clearly I got that wrong. Nevertheless, I do not intend adding more to the Adwick School section now. If anyone sends me pictures of the demolition in progress, then of course I shall post these – but the game is well over now, and I have drawn a line over it.
Perhaps I’m being a grumpy old man, but I thought it was interesting that Adwick Academy refer to ex pupils of Percy Jackson and the NDTC, but do not mention Adwick School at all! Maybe there is nothing in this, but with some of the negative comments I found on the Internet last year…. it sort of makes me wonder.
Whilst I shall not be adding any further to the Adwick section, you will remember that this blog was temporarily shut down for one day in December. That was when I thought that this big move were beginning. When the academy’s official countdown reaches 0, which by my reckoning is midnight Monday 25th February, this blog shall mark the confirmed end of Adwick School by doing the same as it did in December (GMT).
On Monday 25th February, only one page will show if you come here. There will be one picture of the old Adwick School in black and white, and the blog itself will revert to monochrome. Normal service shall resume midnight Tuesday 26th February.
Please note that the “Adwick School” item on the main menu will also be removed after Easter. No material will be deleted, but you will then have to use the archive to access the Adwick posts. These have already been archived anyway.
“I will drown and nobody shall save me” – reported of someone drowning in a lake. The man, like so many others these days, had not learnt the “shall” and “will” rule!
Finally, you will perhaps have seen that I’m a bit picky about words. I don’t like the modern custom of calling school children “students” – it’s interesting that the academy refers to us oldies as “past pupils”, but calls its own children “students” – but apart from this, I distinguish between “will” and “shall”. You should too. We are losing so many fine distinctions in the English language.
I wonder what will be so special for today’s pupils if they go into higher education, and become students? Yes, I know that this is American usage, but I think that we just end up losing a very fine nuance in English. Now there will be nothing special about one’s status as a student any more.
‘Tis a good thing I emigrated….
“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.
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!
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!
This is where I now am! Thirty-three years ago to this day, Monday 10th December 1979, I was beginning my very first day at the now condemned buildings of (what used to be) Adwick School. After our concert at Lødingen Vestbygd this evening, I shall be writing more about that anniversary. This is the daily photograph from the Arctic North for 10th December.
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 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”…
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
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.
Of course Adwick School was firmly on my mind today. My friends from school would be paying their last respects, and just as their tour of the condemned buildings began I took myself out on to the beach at Vestbygd.
A year ago, I had photographed brilliant colours coming to this place. This year there was so much cloud that black and white had to do. Perhaps the weather only reflected the sombreness of the occasion in England. Norwegian Time is one hour ahead of English time, so this picture was taken while the tour of my school was going on.
It is an odd thing that – of all the places – I should end up back here. Vestbygd School, which is itself threatened with demolition, is the one school in Norway with a connection to Adwick School. Back in 1997, when I worked in this municipality before, I had travelled to Adwick School with two of the pupils from Vestbygd. They had enrolled half a day there, and one of them even used my old school tie!
The darkness is upon us. The Polar Night has come.
Tomorrow is the big day. My friends from school go back to school – or back to that shell where once its spirit lived.
Today was cloudy. I was unable to take the pictures that I got a day ago, and which I know so many return here to see. So I shall publish one below from Wednesday. Today it was mostly grey all the time. Since it does not start to get “light” (everything is relative here) until about half past nine in the morning, a sense of gloom has pervaded the entire day.
Strangely enough, this is not unlike Friday 7th December 1979, apart from the obvious enormous difference in the hours of “daylight” (once again everything is relative). That was also a grey day if memory serves me right. My parents insisted that I go into my old school, Don Valley High School, to return some books. I had also to be “de-registered” there before starting Monday at Adwick. It was something I wasn’t too happy about, but in those days I had not any choice in the matter.
So just as tomorrow is a day when my thoughts will be on Adwick School, so too the immediate days before Monday 10th December 1979. I can remember them as if they were yesterday! How time has flown by, and how we have all aged!
However, enough of my musing…. since it was so grey today, as you can see in the photograph above, below is a picture that I did not show on Wednesday. They say that smells bring back memories. I think the views of nature we have are rather conducive to doing the same, if only because they dispose one to contemplation.
For all that our school has been disparaged (mainly by those who went there after I did), and for all that its former uniform was so poorly regarded that it was already mainly lost by the time it was abolished, someone clearly is impressed with the new look of this blog. If WordPress statistics are accurate, there has been a huge leap in my popularity.
I have never had the hundreds reported by my colleague Jon Blamire, but this blog has been doing a lot better since its re-brand this Autumn. It is not unusual now for me to have two or three “likes” a day – and since I changed the style sheet last night, barring anything other than my school colours in the main body of text, I have not only had six likes – but five people have followed me! This is in the space of 24 hours! More importantly, the site is pulling about 25-30 views a day, and the trend is going up. So I’m more than happy.
I have made no secret of the symbolism being used on this re-branded blog, so someone clearly likes the (school uniform) green, white, and black colour scheme (grey was an option for girls at Adwick). However shoddy some may have thought it, in my day it was smart. Those liking this blog must think the same of it now, reused for the colours you see here.
AS for you that don’t… I have already warned everybody that I will unashamedly be bringing Adwick School to the fore at this rather poignant time. 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. I suggest you come back sometime next year!
Yesterday I received an e-post from a former pupil of the Percy Jackson Grammar School (which was the earlier name of Adwick School). I was informed that this Saturday my old school will be putting on a tour of its premisses – the last chance for those who went there to see where they grew up. During the Christmas holidays, the present academy will move out of the premisses and into its new buildings – and the older school buildings will all be demolished.
There is a Christmas Market and tour of the ‘Old School’ – the Former Percy Jackson Grammar School/Adwick School on Saturday 8th December 2012. The market begins at 10am and ends at 3pm and the tour starts at 12 noon – assemble in the reception area. This, as you may know, will be the last chance for many of us to visit our former school before it will be demolished next year. The new building for Outwood Academy, Adwick will be completed very soon and their use for the old buildings ended. They plan to move during the Christmas holidays – e-mail from former pupil.
Of course I should have liked to have gone. Unfortunately it is completely out of the question. Even if my economy allowed for a jaunt back to the United Kingdom (which it does not), I have other engagements this weekend. Nevertheless my heart will be there, and I have friends who are going. They have promised to take pictures. If they permit me to, I shall post some on this blog.
As I have maintained since the rebuild became known, although I do not oppose it – I think the new facilities are a great thing for today’s children – I will not be sending up the rockets the day the bulldozers move in. Some apparently feel differently. However, I think they are making a mistake. Whatever the failings of our teachers (I have a friend whose memories of school and Adwick in particular are not indescribably happy ones), our formative years are just that: they remain a part of us, and speaking for myself Adwick School will therefore remain a part of me.
On the other hand, I realize that it went from a school with a very good reputation, to one with serious problems, and I cannot speak for those who came after my generation…. one of whom has said that he would like to press the button the day it comes down! I still think that this marks the end of an epoch, and as such we should observe it with quiet dignity. Even if I think that they have done the right thing building new, it is still a sad day to lose the last seat of childhood authority.
Therefore as we now approach this end, Adwick School unashamedly comes to the fore of this blog. On this day, the fourth December 1979, my parents and I met the headmaster Mr Atherfold in the morning, and it was agreed that I should be transferred there. I remember that there was a system of coloured lights outside his room, saying when he was busy and when you could go in! In the afternoon my father took me to Cliffs in Doncaster, where I was fitted out with my Adwick School uniform. I was to start school the following Monday, 10th December. It seems a little strange that these dates fall exactly with the days this year, thirty three years later, just before it all comes to an end.
I should like to thank those who have promised to take pictures for me. Not everyone feels as comfortable with writing as I do, but words for visiting an old school just before it is demolished will always be found wanting. How do you express your feelings? When you see that place that once was “up there”, now very much at your own level? When what was strange and new is familiar, old and worn out? When that room you feared to approach is now just a mundane place?
So thank you to those who are going Saturday. I cannot exactly say enjoy yourselves, but I do hope that you will find the tour meaningful.