Digging out memories of the Lister Street tunnel

Andrew Rees who looked back on his Lister Street School days.
Andrew Rees who looked back on his Lister Street School days.

Andrew Rees loved our reminder of the last days of Lister Street School - and he had plenty more to tell us.

The man who was head teacher of both Lister Street and Eldon Grove primaries relived what he described as “very fond memories.”

Lister Street school.

Lister Street school.

And he had a question for us - is the vast underground network of tunnels - which was used to heat the school in its early days - still there.

Does anyone know?

It’s just one interesting point raised by Andrew who got in touch after spotting our piece on the farewell performance staged by the last pupils at the school wo donned period costume.

The school was to close for good in 1989 and we decided to see how many people remembered this occasion when we posted a series of archive photographs on social media.

I have often wondered if the vast system of tunnels under the old school, used for the original heating system, were filled in. This underground world was regularly used by the fire brigade to practice working procedures in complete darkness. Are the tunnels still there?

Andrew Rees

It got a great response with 10,000 people showing an interest.

And separately, Andrew emailed us to give us more memories of the performance.

“The children read out a commentary followed by songs and music for each of the decades that the school had been opened.

“I personally dressed up in a cap and gown borrowed from Tony Metcalfe, the school deputy at the time, and stuck on huge sideburns whiskers. I carried a cane to complete the menacing presence of the headmaster!

“The children gave several performances of the “Farewell” in the school hall and the project was masterminded by Linda Morley, who went on to become the head at St Helens Primary School.

“So much hard work was put into it by both staff & children but it was wonderful fun.”

An orange booklet called The Lister Street Story was expertly compiled by Rob Wilson who later became head of West Park Primary School, said Andrew.

“As well as the booklet, a vast number of excellent photos were taken of the few months at Lister Street by Tony Metcalfe, latterly headteacher of Clavering Primary School,” said Andrew

Before leaving Lister Street, a time-capsule hidden behind the foundation stone was unearthed. It revealed documents, coins, and other momentos from 1899.

And a new time capsule was buried behind the Lister Street foundation at the new Eldon Grove School building.

The old school continued to be used for some time by Hartlepool College of Further Education before it was demolished, “leaving just the caretakers house and some of the perimeter walls,” said Andrew.

“However, I have often wondered if the vast system of tunnels under the old school, used for the original heating system, were filled in. This underground world was regularly used by the fire brigade to practice working procedures in complete darkness. Are the tunnels still there?”

Are the tunnels still there?

Anyone with answers, or more memories of Lister Street, can email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk.