I felt a coldness that was not of this world

LEAVING Dyke House School on the Friday in 1960 I started work on Monday morning, 8am to 5pm, at the Technical College building department in Avenue Road for the princely sum of £2 10s a week.

This was the former Avenue Road school shown in Memory Lane photographs.

The person in charge was Fred Iveson and my fellow workmate George Hudspeth, the principal being Mr Nightingale.

Fred told us stories of the school ghost.

He used to say the school was haunted.

Of course we thought it all a wind up to scare two gullible lads who had just left school.

One particular classroom, six, was at the end of a long corridor with only one access.

Below was the brickwork shop.

Sounds of loud footsteps could be heard quite clearly while we were in the brickwork shop.

We thought it was Fred trying to frighten us both, playing a practical joke to give credence to his ghost story.

We hatched a plan the next time we heard noises and to catch him out.

The college had closed for the holidays so there were only the three of us in the building.

All was silent, then the noise of loud footsteps across the floor above us.

This was our cue to catch our practical joker.

There were only two access points upstairs, in the yard and main entrance, both stairs meeting at the corridor.

We waited till both of us were at the bottom of each staircase, shouted “now” and raced up the stairs, meeting each other at the top.

We tentatively approached the door to the classroom. It was locked.

I waited outside, guarding the door, till George came back with the keys.

Opening the classroom we searched everywhere. Nothing.

No-one was there, only a creepy sort of atmosphere.

Still convinced that we were being tricked into believing the place was haunted, all cupboards and doors were closed or locked.

There was nothing of this earth that could have made the noise of the footsteps we had heard so clearly.

Looking out of the window our supervisor, Fred, was walking along Avenue Road coming from the Technical College in Lauder Street.

It scared the heck out of us, the last time we went ghost hunting.

But another eerie event was to follow some months later.

I was up in the loft space clearing it out all on my own.

There were old fashioned school chalk boards, hundreds of them.

I even found items of clothing from before the war, maybe even the First World War.

Just then someone, or thing, came up behind me.

Maybe it was just George trying to scare the life out of me, or should that be to death?

No-one was there.

I felt a coldness that was not of this world.

I got out of that loft space in record time despite being told not to be silly and go back and finish what I was doing there.

No way I would. Would you?

You may think that it was just the furtive imagination of two 15-year-olds in a very old building, hearing creaks and groans of the timbers.

Believe me, if it was you who had experienced it, you might just believe in ghosts.

Mr Ward, the caretaker who owned a corner shop in Villiers Street, said the school was indeed haunted and classroom six was a place where the most ‘activity’ was.

He’d noticed and in some cases seen things that could not be explained rationally.

Avenue Road school was demolished to make way for the Middleton Grange shopping centre.

Lauder Street Technical College, the present Police Station, and Mr Ward’s shop somewhere in the car park area.

It’s strange how a school photograph shown in Memory Lane taken so many years before I was even born can jolt the memory of times past to recall in the present.

The town has changed dramatically and, I’m sure most will agree, not always for the better.

Still memories remain and those last forever, but thankfully not the ghosts of times long past.

Victor Tumilty,

Collingwood Walk,

Hartlepool.