Tanfield School celebrating 100 years of learning

KING George V was on the throne when Tanfield School opened the gates to its first class of pupils in 1912.

Tanfield School 100 years centenary - staff dress up in Edwardian costumes
Tanfield School 100 years centenary - staff dress up in Edwardian costumes

KING George V was on the throne when Tanfield School opened the gates to its first class of pupils in 1912.

One hundred years on, the latest generation of young learners joined with teachers and past pupils to celebrate the school’s centenary.

The occasion was marked with history projects, displays of old photographs and parties when staff and pupils donned period dress.

Around 300 students of the past also travelled from all corners of the earth for a reunion of the Tanfield Association, including from Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Elizabeth Hawkins, 65, not only studied at the school for seven years as a County Durham youngster, but returned as a teacher.

Her career at Tanfield School spanned 31 years, before she retired in 2005.

“People have really liked looking back to a time when they were happy and they had all their friends around them every day,” she said.

“So many people have said how grateful they are to Tanfield for giving them a good start in life.

“Some old staff have been surprised by how much the school has changed, how much technology it has and how smart the pupils are.”

Today called Tanfield School – Specialist College of Science and Engineering, it was formerly Stanley Grammar School in the 1950s and before that Alderman Wood School. In 1976, the school merged with Shield Row School.

The photographic displays show a series of characters from days gone by, including the infamous headmaster Dr Sharp, or “The Doc”, who was a renowned hardliner.

“When I was a pupil, the school didn’t have carpets in the corridors and the classrooms,” said Mrs Hawkins, 65, of Thirlmere, Birtley.

“We didn’t have the nice, pastel- coloured tiles, we had whitewash and brickwork.

“We were terrified of the headmaster too. The headmaster seems a lot more approachable these days. It seems much more relaxed now even though everyone is still working very hard.”

Mrs Hawkins has written a book to coincide with the celebrations, 100 and Not Out, which has already sold 300 copies. Anyone who wants to buy a copy should contact the school on 01207 232881 and ask for the Tanfield Association.

We didn’t have the nice, pastel-coloured tiles, we had whitewash and brickwork

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