Hawes when it was a day school kept the sexes separate, with separate door entrances and even separate external gates to go in. The entrance on Main Street that is now blocked up was the headmaster’s house. There used to be a big garden at Hawes, especially during the war, that the children created and worked on.
At school you got a third of a pint of milk in the morning. You didn’t get it at secondary school but you did at the primaries. We got raw milk because it came straight from the farm. We got it from Uncle Harry at Gayle, he used to bring it down. Milking was done at six o’clock so it was cold by then. They’d be about one-hundred bottles to come down. And we used to queue and if there was any leftover, we’d have another one so we sometimes had two.
If you lived far away from school, it was in your interest to live at least two miles distance as children only got to get the bus to school if they lived over two miles away. I knew these two at Widdale, and they had to measure the distance, and it was just over two miles so they were okay. But it didn’t always work out like that. There was someone else who lived on an outlying farm in Swaledale, right at the top, and during the school terms she was lodged down in the village with her aunt so she could go to school. They wouldn’t go for her because it was too difficult. The ones who lived in Cotterdale had to walk over the tops to Hardraw School because that was less than two miles. People didn’t think anything of walking distances then.
During the Second World War we had all the evacuees. And we didn’t go to school in the morning because the evacuees went, so we went to school from one o’clock till five o’clock in the afternoon. Evacuees and local children weren’t taught together at Hawes like they were at other schools in the Dale. It was probably a numbers issue, there would be too many. And the evacuees had their own teachers as well who were evacuated from the same area. We didn’t mix all that much, but we always had an evacuee boy living with us, me mother and father. We’d have meals with them, dinners and breakfasts. Me brother and I used to sleep up in the attic so they must’ve slept in the middle of the house.
You see Hawes, generally, it was liberal politically. There were one or two people who went to church and were conservative, but Father and Mother were liberal. They were Methodists and were more welcoming to outsiders.
In the early 1940s us lads were all interested in the army particularly, the air force. If there was a plane crash or anything we’d bike miles and miles to see it, to Dent, to Swaledale. We went to one on the top of Swaledale and over here going to Dent. It crashed during the night and we didn’t see it till after school, say, and of course all the bodies had been removed. There was one who crawled to Dent Station and he was the only survivor, they were Canadians.
It was alright because we were free to go out in the morning. Because we hadn’t to go to school till dinner time, because the evacuees were there. For me personally that was a good thing because I didn’t like to go to school. If there was snow we’d deliberately miss school and go sledging. And a lot of the boys were all missing in June and July during haytiming. We weren’t interested in what that girls were doing. But the girls were often off too as they were gathering the hay or helping in the kitchen for drinkings - taking food out to sustain them working out in the fields.
We never had any toys at school at all. We didn’t play games, we called it laking about. We just larked in the fields. At Hawes we were allowed out of the playground to roam at lunchtime. But if we didn’t come back on time we got the ruler by the headmaster. Because by one o’clock we were still up the fields. So after dinner, the ones that might be a problem, it might be ten of you, were all lined up outside and he’d come round with a wooden ruler and – BANG! – one after the other. The ones that were lined up were always lads. It stung, it used to leave a mark… you’d know about it for five minutes afterwards. But it didn’t make us any less likely to go up the fields. It didn’t bother us. We’d still do the same thing. The oldest I would have been when I got the ruler was ten, as I went to Yorebridge then.
After Hawes I went Yorebridge Grammar School in Askrigg. I went by train. You only went there if you passed your exam. Those who didn’t pass their exam stayed on at Hawes till they were 14. My father and mother had to pay for my education at Yorebridge, and for my brother Edward, both of us had to pay. If you didn’t have the money, you wouldn’t go unless you could get a scholarship, and there were only two or three of those per year. So if you didn’t have the money, you would have to stay on at Hawes School with the younger children till you were 14, and then you’d leave.
This would affect your opportunities because at Hawes school all I can remember being taught was English, maths, maybe some geography. There was no science, no art. I think the girls at Hawes School would do sewing, and the boys I think were taught farming for maybe one afternoon a week, but you see I wouldn’t be there so I wouldn’t know. Once girls left Hawes at 14, they’d have to do housework, and making cheese and milking and things like that. Some would become married farmers. Lots would become maids straight from school and go and live in someone else’s house.
You didn’t get the ruler at Yorebridge, but I remember them pulling boys’ sideburns, giving them a right yank on their ears.
Picture: Basil in 1938