Where it all began , and where lasting friendships were forged.                                                                            The church groups, boy scouts and girl guides and other youth groups did a great job of keeping kids busy and out of trouble.                                                                                                                                                              School teachers back then were pretty strict I guess considering who they were teaching they had to be. They were firm believers in that old adage "spare the rod spoil the child".

Two of my teachers were Mr Mayes and Mr Bulman, they had radically different styles of teaching but achieved similar results.  Mr May never used the cane whereas Mr Bulman was quite liberal with it's use as I can testify to.   Mr Mayes was my favourite but I came to respect both of them equally.

There weren't many spoilt kids in my class I can tell you.  I was unfortunate to have a school teacher living  on my  street, it rather cramped my style because teachers in those days were to be respected and obeyed both at school and after school. Long after I left school, I still addressed a teacher as "sir" if I met one on the street. We were given school meals but not many kids liked them, we also were given milk to drink. When one of the teachers retired we got a new teacher called Mr Gibb, we all called him Major Gibb as he had once been a major in the army and carried the classroom cane like a swagger stick stuck under his arm military style. Every day my class would have to go to another building for milk, he would enjoy lining us up single file and march us across the playground shouting "left, left left right left".  It was not a pretty sight to see. We all had our favourite teachers but I think that by far the best was Mr Mayes. If ever you were sent to the Head Master's office it usually meant you would be punished which was one or two good whacks across the fingers.  I only remember one time I had that dubious honour and that was the day I came to school sporting a black eye.   My teacher asked me what happened and I told him that while playing with my mate Geordie Wilson after school, tossing rocks at each other  I got hit in the eye. We were both sent to the Head Master's office and each of us received two whacks each, in those days even after school you were not immune from the teacher's cane. Once a year  some of the older kids would be excused from classes to help the local farmers with the potato crop.  Children  worked in the fields  tatie picking  and for that they got to take home a bucket or two of potatoes.   I don't think the kids cared much what they got they were just glad they weren't in class.  As soon as the farmer's back was turned  a lot of clod tossing would go on between the lads and lassies, at the end of the day most of the kids went home covered in mud. Most kids left school aged 14 but some of the brighter ones went on to Wolsingham Grammar School to continue their education. Most of the ones that left school early usually ended up working in the coal mines, or some other unskilled job.   There wasn't much of an effort by the government in those days to provide any vocational training.  Most of the lads  ended up in the pits and  usually spent the rest of their lives working there.  It was very dangerous and unhealthy work and many lads ended up getting sick and dying at a young age.  The military forces offered one way out and a lot of the lads took it including myself.   I joined the RAF just as soon as I was old enough and signed on for 4 years. They taught me a trade and I improved my education during the time I was in the service.  I was able to put it to good use after I left.  One thing about the teachers at the Crook school they were very strict but you did get a sound educational foundation and for that I’ll always be grateful.eleve_prof-12