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School Street Bensham

A Memory of Bensham

We moved into School Street when I was nine, along with my two sisters Norma and Iris and our parents Mary and Norman Cook. My father was a lead glazer at Reed Millicans on Team Valley. At the Derwentwater Road end of School Street was the school, some called it Lady Vernon's, most though St Cuthbert's as the church was next to it. At 11 years I went to Windmill Hill School, only because it was near my grandmother's house on Walker Terrace where I went at lunchtime. My sisters went to Brighton Avenue Girls' School when they reached 11 but it closed and they went to Hillhead up Lobley Hill which was newly built and modern. When I was 13 Windmill Hill School closed down and we moved to Whitehall Roa School and yet Windmill Hill's buillding still stands to this day, it was never used as a school but the Gateshead Council used it then it was a nursing home for the elderly. I have very happy memories of both the secondary schools and still keep in touch with friends I made at school through Friends Reunited and Facebook. We had swimming baths next to Windmill Hill School called the Mulgrave Baths and upstairs there was a hot baths because in those days very few people in the area had bathrooms, in fact most toilets were down the yard.
On Saturday mornings we would go to the Odeon cinema on Gateshead High Street and maybe have a look around Woolworths to spend our pocket mone. On the top of Windmill Hills was a children's park nicknamed 'the hikeys' and next to this on Bensham Road was another picture house, the Bensham cinema, a place to see Saturday matinee. Around the 1960s there were about 10 cinemas in and around Gateshead, 5 on the High Street and 1 just on Sunderland Road so we were spoiled for choice. Near our home on Bank Street there was another cinema we called 'the rats', you can imagine why and if you took an empty jam jar you were allowed in free. When I left school at 15 I went to work at Osram lamps on Kingsway TVTE until 1969. By this time I was married and expecting my first child, it was also the same time as my parents left School Street and moved into the nearly built Warenford Walk, St Cuthbert's village next to the old Redheugh bridge on Askew Road. In the years that followed both sides of School Street were demolished and the surrounding streets.

A memory shared by Linda Boss , on Mar 12th, 2010.

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