Kidding around in school’s goat club

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A HARTLEPOOL school used to have a goat club – no kidding. ANDREW LEVETT looks back at pupils who rose above the common herd.

BRIERTON School Goat Club had 27 members in February 1979 – 15 boys, five girls and seven white Saanens goats.

Some new “kids” were expected to join in the spring, as five of the goats were expecting.

Mail reporter Michele Romaine wrote: “There is already eager anticipation in the club and a sense of satisfaction they are one step nearer a pedigree goat herd.

“It will take another two generations for the herd to be pedigree but for a club which started with four rather ordinary goats, it will be an achievement to be proud of.”

Goats first came to Brierton in 1975, as a branch of rural studies, but “the one thing missing is a man in the camp”.

After a billy goat’s first short visit to the school in 1975 – clearly not a success, though no details were given of what went wrong – it was decided “we go to them”.

Michele revealed that billy kids were destroyed at birth by the club’s honorary vet, Mr Gale “because I am assured they are very dangerous and they smell”.

Saanens goats are the largest dairy breed, originally hailing from Switzerland, and their milk was apparently popular with pupils at the school, which was based on sites in Brierton Lane and Catcote Road until it closed in 2009.

“There was even a cheese making lesson in the school’s dairy,” wrote Michele, who added there was no shortage of volunteers for the many tasks the goats brought, including building boxes for the animals and de-horning as well as routine feeding and cleaning.

For chairman Keith Armstrong and secretary Philippa Murray there were also administration jobs to do.

Among the members of the club, two boys were interested in farming and one had a place at Houghall Agricultural College, while one of the girls was aiming to become a vet.

They also came into the school at weekends and holidays to work under the guidance of teacher Mrs Shafhitzel, leading Michele to comment: “Proof that children do fill their days with something besides vandalism.”

Do you remember Brierton Goat Club? Contact Andrew Levett by emailing andrew.levett@northeast-press.co.uk or write to him at Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.