MEMORY LANE: Thoroughly modern Cecile was a-head of her time

PIONEER: Cecile Beales, the headmistress who was part of a new generation of educational thinking in Hartlepool

PIONEER: Cecile Beales, the headmistress who was part of a new generation of educational thinking in Hartlepool

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CECILE Beales was a woman who made a real difference to the schooling of many women in Hartlepool.

Many regarded her as the first of her generation to encourage parents who “interfered” in education. She wanted it. She wanted parents to have a say and make difference.

She had plenty to say on 1960s Hartlepool. She loved it enormously even though it “badly needs some new shops and a theatre”.

It was her own story which was just as fascinating. She was a Bolton Wanderers fan and just as big a fan of the new GCE system which had not long previously been introduced at Dyke House.

She was from Hull by birth but arrived in West Hartlepool from her previous school in Leeds. She came north because she loved the idea of a secondary modern with a GCE stream, which she could not get at the school in Yorkshire at the time.

And in an interview with the Northern Daily Mail in April 1962, she had plenty to say on 1960s Hartlepool. She loved it enormously even though it badly needs some new shops and a theatre, she said.

Cecile was a railwayman’s daughter whose Christian name came from a French woman who her dad and a comrade in arms helped during the Second World War.

They repaired her cafe and her dad’s friend married Cecile and settled in France.

Cecile’s father promised that if he ever had a daughter, he would name her after the woman in France who he helped.

The West Hartlepool Cecile remembered her French counterpart as being lively.

Perhaps it was that influence, and the fact that she went to a co-ed school in Hull, that Cecile had such modern views on life.

After her early days, she trained to be a teacher at Homerton College in Cambridge and then returned to Hull, which as our paper put it in 1962, was “post-war educational chaos” in a bomb-mutilated town.

Her first class in her first teaching job contained 79 children and it was right next to a class being led by another teacher. Cecile remembered how the classes were so huge, the children at the back of the room pretty much had a choice of which lesson they took.

After that, she went on to a be a senior mistress at a college on Willoughby in the East Riding. For four years, she was a departmental head and became headmistress for the first time at Ince-in-Makerfield in Lancashire.

She enjoyed gardening, reading, the countryside and looking at stately homes.

Her other loves included art galleries, the theatre, music and Association football, although she was only tempted once to try out a match at Hartlepool United.

Her family was one very much involved in education. Her husband was the music master at the Brierton Boys’ School in West Hartlepool.

We would love to know more about Mrs Beales.

Do you remember her? Were you taught by her? Get in touch and tell us more.

Contact Sarah Stoner by email on sarah.stoner@jpress.co.uk