Name of business centre should reflect history of Beardall buildings

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I READ with interest the article in the Dispatch of January 27 on the proposed business centre taking shape on Duke Street, Hucknall.

The article describes how the eyesore Beardall Street Secondary School buildings are now being transformed into the Byron Business Centre.

The buildings have, in fact, a long and distinguished association with the history and development of public education in the town. But despite a check back through more than 100 years covering every twist and turn of education policies, I can find no link with Byron whatsoever, although the poet must have been studied at the various schools on this site in this time.

These buildings were first an addition to the first Board School opened in the 1870s when it took two days to process all the potential pupils who queued all the way down Jack Beardall’s lane to try to get in. Many had no proof of age but were just desperate to learn to read and write.

In the early years of the 20th century, this was a centre for the development of teaching methods, and a frequent visitor was the first director of education in Nottinghamshire, the Rev Charles John Bristowe, who died prematurely at the age of 48. At his funeral, girls from the school in white dresses sprinkled red rose-petals on his grave — an accolade not reserved for many educationalists!

Most people of a certain age, however, will remember with mixed emotions the Beardall Secondary School and the characters that were almost part of the fabric of the buildings, such as Bob Petty, Ginny Lingard, Bill Driver, Derek Mantle and Bill White. Their ghosts are still said to walk the buildings.

In the summer of 1976, these old buildings, which had reeled from one educational policy to another, became the Beardall Centre virtually overnight. Comprehensive education had arrived in Hucknall and in what the new head, Ted Archer, described as a dog’s breakfast, three school buildings became one.

The Holgate School was duly born and with it, much of the history of the buildings was, without ceremony or recognition of any kind, dumped in a series of skips on the playground.

I actually removed from one of the skips a hand-written diary, in which a previous head, Mr Simpson, had recorded the day-to-day events in the life of the school. I found an entry on September 7 1965 when I first commenced as a science teacher.

The county council took some persuading too to even take the two oars mounted in the head’s study, which were actually a link with John Bristowe. I have no idea where they are now.

All this leads me to question the choice of name for the latest reincarnation of the buildings. Surely the Beardall Business Centre would be far more appropriate.

Why are we always turning our back on the town’s heritage?

MARTIN GILL,

Watnall Road,

Hucknall.