East Durham children go back in time as village school marks 90th anniversary

Children have been transported back in time as their village primary school prepares to celebrate its 90th anniversary.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 4:45 am
Pupils enjoyed a day at Beamish museum as part of their school's 90th anniversary.

Pupils at Hesleden Primary School have been learning about how different life was in the classroom and the village in years gone by for the milestone.

The school opened in November 1931 to serve the then bustling village and meet the demand of growing miners’ families.

And on Saturday, November 27, the school is opening its doors and inviting ex-pupils and the wider community in for an open day with an exhibition of school photos from over the years.

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A pupil tries her hand at some old fashioned cleaning methods with local history volunteer Bill Elliott.

Deputy headteacher Lynsey Johnson said: “The school was built because of the demand of the miners’ families who grew and grew at that time.

"Hesleden was buzzing. There was all kinds of different shops in the village.

"It has changed a lot over the years.”

In the lead up to the big anniversary, a number of former pupils and members of Blackhall Local History Group have visited the school to lead workshops to educate today’s youngsters of the past.

Blackhall Local History Group's Stan Gray shows children where part of a mine used to be.

They included folk singer Bill Elliott and Stan Gray who went to the school between 1949 and 1959.

Stan said: “The children have been very interested.

"I’m amazed at how they have taken it all in and done different projects on Hesleden.

"We are putting on a display of old photographs including from the time when we were there.”

Children also got a taste of school life of yesteryear with a visit to Beamish Museum.

They demonstrated what they have learned by giving a series of special assemblies throughout the week which parents were invited to.

Miss Johnson added: “They are based on the work they have done with former pupils.

"They spoke about what the school was like many years ago, what kind of punishments they faced like the cane and how classrooms were very formal.”

The school also received some artwork by the late artist and former miner Norman Cornish to help the children understand what life was like for a miner in the early part of the 20th Century.

Saturday’s open day takes place from 10am-2pm and any old photos would be welcome.

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