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Longhill School History

In 1998, the 'All our Yesterdays' Writers' Group  published a book Reflections Beneath the Wagga Moon and the following are from that book which is in Hartlepool Library.

Thomas Richardson, a Liberal rival of Ralph Ward Jackson, wanted votes at the 1874 elections and this is one of the reasons he purchased the blast furnaces and rolling mills to the south of Stranton. He then built homes for his workers in the area of Seaton parish known as Longhill. Because the area was undrained, unpaved, unlit and was also a site for travelling families, it became known as Wagga. The more affluent workers settled in the South Parade and Studley Road areas of nearby Belle Vue.

The three main streets built at the time by Richardson were Florence Street, Hill Street and Portland Street. Slightly to the north west of these streets and separated by bogs and random allotments were Sarah Street, Alice Street and King Street.

A school,known as 'Wagga College' by the residents of the area, was built, but it was some years later in the early 1900s ,that it was linked by a cinder track to Windermere Road and on to Brenda Road.

The school was built in 1874 when Richardson gave some land to the Archdeacon of Durham and the Vicars of Seaton and Greatham on which to build a school and he himself donated £200 of the £900 it cost to build.

In 1913, WR Owen in his book about education in Hartlepool observed 'The district was known as Wagga Wagga on account of its wild aspect. The approaches were bogs and altogether it was not  the most desirable of residence.' In 1875, there were four headteachers in a year which has been attributed to the unpleasant surroundings of the school.

In 1890, because of the formation of St Aidan's Parish, the school was no longer in Seaton Carew parish and was renamed  St Aidan's Church of England School Longhill. R.E. Knowlden who was priest from 1897, showed concern for the school. The area around it was little better than when it was built although some pathways had been laid. In 1899 an Infants' School was begun and in 1902, opened. Prior to this, children of all ages had been in the 1874 building.

Inspectors in 1909 said 'The school is overcrowded, one room contains 84 children. There are only 3 closets for 200 boys. The walls are very dirty. Guards should be provided for the open fireplaces.

Rev Knowlden continued to show concern for the state of the school, and when some 102 past pupils did not return from WW1, he decided that a fitting memorial to them would be a new school. He spent much of the next 10 years fundraising and on the 21st May 1926 the school was ready for pupils.

In May 1926, 336 scholars were marched from Longhill to the new Memorial School in Loyalty Road leaving just the youngest children at Longhill. Rev Knowlden and staff and children continued to fund raise although he himself passed away in November 1929. 

Susan Moore was for many years a teacher, having been employed initially by Rev Knowlden. She then became  headteacher at Longhill Infants and later at Loyalty Road when the children finally moved there in 1960 and these are some of her words:

'I became headteacher of St Aidan's Infants' School in 1947 and I look back with great pleasure at those years spent in the old building which lacked all the modern facilities of schools today. It came as a shock to me to discover that the old fashiioned lavatories where one tank flushed the channel of a whole row of toilets, were still in use.

The staff spared no effort in making the school attractive and teaching effective. and when showing of films became fashionable, Miss Molly Pattison made a projector which had to be run from a car battery as we had no electricity, only  gas in school.

Despite the proximity of the heavy industrial works, the health and consequently attendance of the children was very good.. We were always the last to suffer from epidemics of measles, chicken pox and mumps.

During my retirement, I meet many old pupils and they all look back, as indeed staff do, with pleasure and gratitude to the days when they lived and learned in a controlled but happy atmosphere.'  (Miss Moore lived to be over 100 having been born in 1906)

By 1940, the original streets of Wagga, Florence, Hill and Portland were empty and were used by the Auxiliary Fire Service for war time survival practice. Infant age children attending the school came from the Belle Vue area. After World War 2, quite a significant number of 'prefab' bungalows and houses were built close to the school in Coniston Road, Langdale Grove, Shap Grove and Bowness Grove. These houses too are long gone and, like Longhill School, would have been to the east of Belle Vue Way in an area of recycling plants and scrap yards today.

In 1960, the school closed and children were tranferred to the Memorial School in Loyalty Road on December 10th of that year.

In 1964, the old Longhill School was sold to scrap merchant J Shaw for £1,119 15s 9d for use a store room. Now, Longhill has gone completely and there is no evidence at all of where either houses in 'Wagga' or the school stood.

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