Fond memories of Haugh Shaw

Mayster Grove, Rastrick Brighouse

HAUGH Shaw Junior School is derelict, boarded up and would seem to be awaiting the arrival of a JCB to finish it off. For me the sight brings a sense of sadness for this is where I first went to school all those years ago in the 1950s.

I have a vivid memory of my first day and can visualise taking those first few steps accompanied by my mother.

I was afraid and wanted to run. A rush of adrenalin hit me, my heart pounded and felt heavy, my palms began to sweat and my mind was panicking over the fight or flight response demand of it.

Clearly, flight was not a realistic option and with reluctance I had to accept that my world was about to change. It seemed freedom had gone, rules had arrived and with punitive measures in tow, regulation and regimentation was what this place was about.

As my mother and I made our way to Miss Fielding's classroom I was struck by the set of new smells. A cocktail of odours, from aromas to stenches, entertained my olfactory system. A sweet waxy smell of floor polish was the background against which other aromatics were set.

A hint of freshly percolated coffee drifted by from what must have been the staff room. A row of pump bags presumably containing plimsoles and shorts, provided an interesting blend of sweaty feet, crepe rubber and dried wee.

As we approached Miss Fielding's room the air became laced with the homely smell of a coal fire being lit. Yes, classrooms had coal fires and one of the teachers first daily tasks was to light the fire. On entering the classroom Miss Fielding greeted us, my mother left and I was shown to my place. It was the traditional semi-detached desk-cum-bench arrangement in which two pupils sat side by side.

I vaguely remember the morning passing, we spent time on words and numbers, best of all we did some colouring in and listened to a story read by Miss Fielding.

Playtime was toilet time officially. This was to be my first experience of mass urination in an outside loo! Some of the older lads obligingly demonstrated how they could reach the pipe work, which probably explained why it was green and discoloured, one pupil could actually reach the window ledge and this really impressed us.

Back in the classroom serious education resumed and my curiosity was again aroused. It was smell again even stronger than the pump bag. It was the sickly smell of vanilla custard blended with that of Bisto gravy, re-heated mutton added to the odour of boiled cabbage, the homely smell of roasted potatoes combined with the creamy fragrance of rice pudding.

I thought this meant that the school dinners were being prepared but later discovered that it was more a case of the pre-cooked dinners being unloaded from a green Morris Minor van. Fortunately, I lived near enough to school to be able to go home for dinner.

Anyway I soon settled in and the years rolled by until it was time to go to the secondary modern across the road.

Yes, it's sad to see the junior school go. I am sure there are many readers who have similar fond memories of the school.

Tony Hargreaves


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