The following table chronicles many of the events
in the history of the school - from its origins as two school (the High
School and Westoe Secondary School) through to the present
day. At the moment, most of the pre-1936 events relate to the High
School unless otherwise stated.
||The London-based Boys' Public Day School Company is formed
|19 Jan 1883
||JC Stevenson MP presides over
local meeting which agrees to open communication with the Company
|28 Apr 1883
||Professor T Hayter Louis FSA
(representative of the Company) visits South Shields. The result is
that the Company decides to build school in South Shields (subject
to certain conditions)
|29 May 1884
||Foundation stone laid on Mowbray
Road site, by Lord Aberdare (President of the Company)
|4 May 1885
||South Shields High School
opens with 37 boys
High School Headmaster: Mr Walter Hibbert Phillips, MA (formerly Second Master & Head of Science at Bedford County School)
||First edition of the ATOM
published (although one edition of the ATOM refers to the
first ATOM dated March 1890 being donated to the school)
||Attendance stood at about
||Robert Chapman (later to become
Colonel Robert Chapman, and Chairman of the Governors for many years)
first attends the High School.
||Ocean Road Boys' School opens
a Science and Art section, under the Headmastership of Alexander Scott,
which will later transfer to Westoe and become the Westoe High Grade
||South Shields School Board agrees to buy 2½ acres of land in Westoe from Ecclesiastical Commissioners for £1250 for a new school development.
||Westoe Board Schools opened
- infants, juniors and "Higher Grade School" - the Science
and Art section of Ocean Road moves into the High Grade School.
Westoe Headmaster: Mr Alexander Scott
||High School Headmaster:
Mr George Doherty Dakyns (formerly Assistant-Master at Newcastle (Staffs) High School)
||Boys' High School in financial difficulties having failed to attract sufficient pupils. It is decided to form South Shields High School Company Ltd, with 1,000 shares of £5, and buy the school for £4500
||School leaving age raised from 10 to 11. Previously, attendance was only compulsory to age 10 (with some exceptions).
Mr George Dakyns, Headmaster, leaves to be Headmaster of Morpeth Grammar School
High School Headmaster:
Mr George Richard Kirwan MA (formerly Assistant Master at Wyggeston School, Leicester)
|12 Sep 1899
||New wing (with art classrooms
and "physical laboratory") opened by old pupil, Walter Runciman,
|1 Jan 1900
||School leaving age raised from 11 to 12 (the Bill in 1899 was introduced by W S Robson, MP for South Shields)
||Westoe Higher Grade School moves to new building just across the road on Iolanthe Terrace, and is renamed Westoe Secondary Day School. The
original building becomes part of Westoe Central Schools.
Dr Frederick Betteridge (formerly Head of Hanson Higher Grade School, Bradford - salary £400 a year)
|8 Apr 1907
||Dr Betteridge (Head of Westoe)
starts an extended period of sick leave
Mr Duncan Taylor Richards (acting, due to Dr Betteridge's continuing sickness)
Mr Thomas Alfred Lawrenson
||The Boys' High School
is taken over by the local Education Authority
|15 Jan 1910
||The first try at the first
ever International match at Twickenham stadium was scored by Freddie
Chapman, an Old Boy of the High School and a member of Westoe and Durham
clubs. The match, between England and Wales, was won by England, 11-6.
|14 Aug 1912
||Shields Gazette reports death
of RC Fenwick in an aeroplane accident on Salisbury Plain (see 1958)
|22 Jun 1919
||Headmaster, George R Kirwan dies.
(acting) High School Headmaster: Captain William Thornton Lucas (deputy head)
||The school's Cadet Corps is
given a captured German Howitzer, donated by the Durham County Territorial
||High School Headmaster: Captain William Thornton Lucas confirmed as the new headmaster
||An outer classroom is erected
due to the increase in the number of boys at the school. It is turned
into a woodwork department.
||School leaving age raised to 14, removing permitted exceptions (Education Act 1918 recommendation, implemented under 1921 Act)
|1 Feb 1924
||School Saving Scheme started
under the "National Savings" scheme - first certificate
||SSHS Philatelic Society is
founded - membership is 6d a year
||School Song is first published
by JB Cramer & Co Ltd
||Rugby is re-introduced to
the school and replaces soccer as the official "School Game"
||Approval given to buy "Field
78" at Harton for the purpose of building a public elementary
||Commander Davies, captain
of the English Rugby team is invited to give a lecture on "Rugby".
Following his talk, a match between the South Shields High School
and Westoe Secondary School was organised, at which Commander Davies
|26 Apr 1928
||"Field 78" at Harton
is finally acquired by the Education Authority, but there are no plans
yet for building on the site.
||A poem in the ATOM laments
the removal of the German Howitzer, given to the school in 1919.
||New Art School is opened at
the High School
||New shower-baths completed
||Another outside "hut"
is erected, containing two classrooms
||School (grass) tennis courts
||High School is desperate for
space - considers using portable screens to create two classrooms
in the assembly hall.
||Dramatic Society is founded
||The 26th South Shields Scout
Troop is formed at the SSHS.
|8 Mar 1932
||The School Savings reached
£1000, with 1199 certificates sold
||Board of Education rejects
plans to build a new school to ease the accommodation crisis (they
change their minds 16 months later)
||The school starts an appeal
to find all old copies of the ATOM.
||SSHS attendance stands at
||An article in the ATOM suggests
changing the Houses from colours to names; although it suggests several
ideas, it doesn't suggest the names that are eventually taken up.
||The SSHS Chess Club is started
||Boys are reallocated to Houses
depending on where they live, and the Houses are renamed from Red,
Green and Blue to Runciman, Fenwick and Chapman
||The Boxing Club and Science
Society are formed. The Stamp Club is revived
|21-22 Feb 1933
||Exhibition of school work
||The new academic year starts
with a newly repainted school
Mr Thomas Edward Newby
||A committee is set up to "control
out-of-door behaviour and general conduct in School"
||A Garden Fete is held to raise
funds towards an organ for the "new school" which is due
to be opened in September 1936. A total of just over £91 is
raised, with a further £11 being raised at a fete held in the
grounds of "Undercliffe", Colonel and Lady Chapman's home
in Cleadon, where the School Players also performed "A Midsummer
|17 Jul 1935
||Final approval given to redesignate
the Harton site for High Education, and work starts on the new building.
|7 Sep 1936
|| The new South Shields
High School for Boys is opened with 250 boys from the old Boys'
High School (in Mowbray Road) and 400 boys from Westoe Higher Grade
School (leaving the girls behind to form the new Girls' High
Headmaster: Mr William Thornton Lucas (from old Boys' High School).
Deputy Head: Mr Thomas Edward Newby (formerly head of Westoe Secondary
|11 Sep 1936
||Shields Gazette reports opening
of the new Boys' High School by Dr Hensley Harrison (Bishop
of Durham). He is accompanied by the Mayor and Mayoress, Colonel and
Mrs Chapman, Alderman and Mrs Chuter Ede, Alderman and several other
town dignitaries. The school boasts an organ in the assembly hall,
a gift from the High School Old Boys
||The old three school Houses,
which were renamed in 1932, appear in the ATOM as four houses, but
returning to their colour designations, as Green, Red, Blue and Yellow
||A Modern Languages Club is
||School leaving age to be raised to 15 from 1939, but not implemented until 1947
||Out-of-school violin classes
are started. Boys pay a small weekly fee for tuition and "hire"
pf the violin, which becomes their property after two years
|19 Jan 1938
||First Speech Day of the new
school is held in the School Assembly Hall.
|8 Sep 1939
||About 150 boys from the 3rd,
4th, 5th and 6th forms are evacuated to Appleby. Although the school
itself was not in the official evacuation area (which was based on
proximity with the Tyne), about half of the boys did live in the area
and of these, half of them chose to evacuate. This accounted for about
a quarter of the school, and they were accompanied by 13 masters,
a "Head" (Mr Newby, the school's Deputy Head) and an assistant
to the Head (Mrs Newby). The masters included Fred Grey, Alf Headley,
Arnold Josephs and "Tanker" Hall. There's a more
detailed account of the evacuation.
||As part of the war-time plans,
those girls from the Girls' High School who were not evacuated to
Kirby Lonsdale move in to the Boys' school.
||A special joint issue of the
ATOM is produced with the Girls' High School.
|18 & 20 Dec 1945
||The Annual School Parties
resume after a break of seven years
||Publication of the ATOM resumes
after being cut during the war
||The school Houses are given
names to replace the colours in use since the opening of the new school.
The names are those of men who played a prominent part in the history
of the school. Boys were allocated to a House by form, with all boys
in a given form being in the same House.
||School leaving age raised from 14 to 15 (Education Act 1944)
||The Gym closes (to be reopened
in September) for building work.
||Technical Block was opened
||Against the wishes of headmaster,
WT (Bill) Lucas, the name is changed to South Shields Grammar-Technical
School for Boys
||In its report on the Music
Society, the ATOM makes reference to "our new and enlarged hall".
The organ was relocated from the old hall
||As part of the rebuilding
scheme (which gave the school its bigger assembly hall), the Photographic
Society gets a new dark-room.
|28 Feb 1954
||The new library is opened
in the old "Manual Block". Room 8 (the old metalwork room,
on the north side) is an Open Department, available to all boys -
Room 9 (the old woodwork room on the south side) is the "Senior
Department", available only to the Sixth Form and part of the
||The old system of allocating
boys in one form to the same house is abandoned, and boys are now
allocated to a house on a "random" basis.
|22 Jul 1955
||WT Lucas retires
||Headmaster: Mr William Edward Egner
takes up his appointment
|13 Aug 1958
||Shields Gazette report on
Fenwick, with commemorative plaque in main corridor of the school.
||The headmaster introduces
black, hip-length gowns for prefects, styled on academic robes.
|19 Jan 1960
||Shields Gazette reports death
of WT Lucas, headmaster for 35 years
||A new blazer badge is introduced
for sixth formers, who may wear it instead of the traditional "lifeboat"
badge. It is one of several designs considered, but was criticised
by a number of traditionalists.
|8 Aug 1961
||Sir Robert Chapman donates
£100 to the school on the occasion of his 80th birthday (in
March). The money is to be spent on books for the school library.
||Language teaching takes on
a high-tech approach. Dr Skilling introduced "Audio-visual"
teaching, and a special AV classroom is established, with an Aldis
file-strip projector, a Ferrograph tape-recorder and a set of Tavor
film-strips. The project was so successful that a second AV classroom
was built in 1963.
|24 Jan 1963
||The Sixth Form Centre is opened,
believed to be the first of its kind in the country. It is modelled
on the "common rooms" at universities and colleges. Furniture
for the centre has been donated by parents and friends
|28 May 1963
||Sixth Form Study Centre opened
|31 Jul 1963
||Shields Gazette reports death
of Sir Robert Chapman (see opening in 1936)
||As well as a second "AV
Classroom", Dr Skilling introduces a "language laboratory".
He saw one in use in Ealing College in 1962, and decided that the
school could benefit from spending £3500 on the 16 glass-fronted,
sound-shielded booths, in which pupils would practice their spoken
language skills with their own dedicated tape-recorder, but the teacher
could intervene on a one-to-one basis from a central console.
|17 Apr 1964
||New Arts & Music block opened
||The school "scourns tradition"
(according to the Shields Gazette) by excluding English, History
and Geography from the timetable, and replacing them with Humanities.
Mathematics and science are replaced by Environmental Studies.
The end result is that for boys' first two years, they have only four
main subjects - Humanities, Environmental Studies, Arts & Crafts,
and Physical Education - and the number of different teachers they
encounter is reduced to four.
|2-4 Dec 1964
||The School Play, The Miser,
receives critical aclaim. Edward Wilson (now Artistic Director of
the National Youth Theatre) played the miser.
||The school introduces a School
Liaison Committe, made up from representatives of all years through
||The new swimming pool is officially
opened (before this, swimming lessons were available only by going
to the Derby Street Baths in South Shields)
|9 Nov 1965
||The head receives a letter
from Duncan McKinnon, an old boy of the school, who was spending the
year at the Maua Hospital in Kenya. The letter appeals for urgent
financial assistance to help with hospital equipment. The school gears
up for a massive fund-raising exercise to raise the target of £500.
Boys throughout the school invent ways of raising money and on 21st
December, a ceremony marked the sending of a telegram saying that
the target had been reached (£414 had been raised by boys, £174
from other sources, including donations) In the end, the school exceeded its target and sent
£710 to the hospital project.
||First annual Spring
Concert is held
||The school disbands
the prefectorial system. In its place is a system of "Sixth Form
Service Groups", each group dedicated to a particular aspect
of school duties.
|10 August 1966
||The school takes delivery of a computer
given by the London and Manchester Insurance Company Ltd. This Ferranti
Pegasus computer is installed in a classroom (and two nearby small
rooms, one as a technician's office and store, the other for the power supply). SSGTSFB is only the third school in the country to have
a computer - the first was Forest Grammar School, in Winnersh, Berkshire, which was given an Elliott 405 by Nestlé in 1965. The second was the Royal Liberty School,
in Gidea Park, Romford, London, which bought its own Elliott 903 and had it running in June, 1966. However, it is believed that SSGTSFB was the first school to add computer programming to its timetable.
||The school play is The
Strong Are Lonely - Mr Seaword's last
||Sixth formers have a special
study area adjacent to the library - in it are sets of study carrells,
shielded desks where boys can study without distractions.
||School trip to Tossa de Mar,
on the Costa Brava.
|1 July 1967
||Group of boys visit La Rochelle in France as first part of Exchange Visit
||The school undergoes a major
||The privilege of wearing the
special sixth-form uniform is extended to the fifth-form.
||Nuffield Chemistry introduced into the curriculum - and this was the last year that the junior forms took General Science
||The winner of the House Drama
Competition ("Pyramus and Thisbe", from A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Clifford Burnett and Ian Hornsby) is such an acclaimed success, the headmaster decides to
have it performed in front of the whole school, and then to have it
performed at the Summer Concert.
|19-21 Mar 1969
||School production (with Girls'
Grammar School) of The Pirates of Penzance
||The school hosts its last
Speech Day. The Board of Governers decides in 1969 that with the growth
in size of the school, Speech Days are no longer practical. Instead,
an Open Evening is to be introduced.
|15 Jul 1969
||The first Open Evenings are
held on 15th and 16th July, to replace the old Speech Day.
|12 Apr 1970
||School trip to France
||Alf Headley retires, and is replaced by
Jimmy Emerson as Deputy Head
||New Kitchen and Dining Hall
is opened. It is used by the upper school (boys in the lower school
continue to use the old dining hall), and is also used as a Sixth
Form Study during lesson times.
|23-26 Mar 1971
||School production (with Girls'
Grammar School) of The Mikado
||School trip to Austria
||SSGTSFB makes history - it
has the first timetable in the UK to be constructed by computer, and
attracts national and international interest.
||School trips to Austria and
||Following the death of sixth
former, James Todd, the James E Todd Music Memorial Fund is
started. The sum of £150 will be invested to provide suitable
books and materials for the Music Section of the school library. 6th
formers design a special label to go inside each book.
||School leaving age raised
to 16 (as part of the 1944 Education Act - but delayed and introduced after 28 years under Raising of School Leaving Age Order 1972)
||School Dinners suspended for six weeks as a result of the Gas Strike. Dinners resumed on 4th April.
||The last of the "Greek"
form names has gone. All forms are now simply letters: 1SOUTH, 2SOUTH,
3SHIELD, 4SHIELD, 5SHIELD, 6FORMALSIXTHE
||6th form is opened up to boys
in other schools
|1 Jan 1974
||Headmaster, William E Egner is awarded the CBE in New Year's Honours list
|12 Feb 1974
||Headmaster, William E Egner receives his CBE at Buckingham Palace
|31 Mar 1974
||South Shields ceases to exist
as a local authority. Instead, it is now part of the new Metropolitan
District of South Tyneside.
|2 Sep 1974
||School re-opens after summer holidays as Harton Comprehensive
School .The new intake consists of 201 boys who join the "comprehensive first year",
while the remainder of the school continues as a Grammar.
||William E Egner retires as Headmaster
||Headmaster: Joseph O'Neil
|3 Sep 1979
||School re-opens after summer holidays with the first co-educational intake (110 boys, 133 girls).
|26 Dec 1987
||Headmaster, Joseph O'Neil dies
||Headmaster: Philip Turner
||The school year starts without a Sixth Form - post-16 education is now largely at South Tyneside College
||Headmaster: Keith Smith (previously
||Keith Smith, Headmaster, takes early
||Headmaster: Ian Tunnicliffe
||Government announces "Building School for the Future" (BSF), a plan to renew all English secondary schools.
||Headmaster: Ken Gibson
||Under BSF Harton School is set to get £18m from South Tyneside's share, and initial planning is started
|16 Dec 2005
||New £1.65m sports hall and fitness centre is opened by David Miliband and members of Newcastle Falcons.
||Harton School is selected to apply for funding from Learning & Skills Council to restore a Post-16 Centre (6th Form)
||Planning permission is granted for the site's redevelopment, including a new building (to include a Sixth Form Centre)
|22 Jun 2009
||Work begins on site redevelopment. Large area is boarded up and work begins on the new building
||New building is opened - first intake of the Sixth Form arrives (the first Sixth Formers for 22 years).
Original 1936 building is sealed off for refurbishment, and main school teaching continues in a temporary pre-fabricated building.
||Refurbished building due to re-open, but the discovery of asbestos delays the project by three months
||Refurbished 1936 building is re-opened and the site development is complete
|10 May 2012
||75th Anniversary dinner held in the school hall (a year late, due to the refurbishment of the school). Guest Speaker, Rory Underwood - David Miliband also attended.
|14 Jun 2013
||Headmaster, Ken Gibson is awared knighthood for his services to education
|17 Oct 2013
||Headmaster, Ken Gibson receives his knighthood at Buckingham Palace from Prince William (the first time the Prince has bestowed a knighthood)