Who was the best teacher ever in Hartlepool?
It's an almost impossible question to answer.
Who was the greatest teacher of them all in Hartlepool?
For Steve Nicholson, it was Herbert Dawson, the man who taught maths to hundreds of youngsters at the long-gone Galley’s Field School.
Steve started to share his memories of Galley’s Field with us last week.
This week, he turns his attention to the man who gave him a permanent love of mathematics.
Herbert was in charge of Class 4A. “He was the greatest teacher of them all,” said Steve who later became a teacher himself.
“My love of maths came from him. He taught us fractions, decimals, areas, volumes of spheres, cones. He then took us to what he called ‘log land’ when he showed us how to use logarithms – wow. No calculators in those days.
“Herbert made us use ink and pen shanks with nibs. We wrote out the wonderful poetry he read to us and he gave us marks out of ten for the presentation.
“If a mistake was made or a blot appeared then the mark might read 7/10 -3 meaning three mistakes and so a number of strokes of the cane.
“A five foot diameter paper mache globe of the world hung from the ceiling marked with all five continents.
“Asked where Australia was, one boy picked up a pen and flung it at the globe where it stuck. He, of course was caned, but the reason given by Herbert was that he had hit the wrong continent.”
But while Herbert was the best, there were others who kept their own place in Steve’s memory.
“Class 2A was taught but Agie Dormond. Very knowledgable in all the subjects. He read us a book – The Man Eaters of Kumoun about tigers in India.
“The man was a great motivator.
“Class 3A was taught by Willy Walton who had a piano in his room for when we had music he was always shouting out, ‘Get out the talkers” and would cane them.
“Brian Townsend thought up a scheme to win some money. Everyone was to bring in a three penny piece and the boy who was caned the most in on day would scoop the pool.
“In a class of 40 boys, this was a lot of money. You can imagine the number of boys who walked out to be caned each time the instruction ‘out the talkers” was given.
“Another caning offence was for loosening the clapper from the hand bell wrung at breaks and lunchtime so that when wrung the bell would come loose and go bouncing down the stairs.”
But it was not all about lessons and punishment. There were sports to enjoy.
Galley’s Field students had a love of rugby and football.
“At times we were allowed to play our game on the New Friarage – Rovers’ pitch ‘ and use the ‘big’ bath at the end of the game,” said Steve.
“Galley’s Field was a formidable school with fantastic teachers. Yes we got caned for infringing the many rules, but what an education we received.
“To me – great days.”