School days

School Days in Darwen

Bob so enjoyed reading he wanted to tell some of his own stories, so here we have the first story. We can look forward to more of these in the future. For those who find reading difficult we have printed the text at the end.


Scan 1

Bob Dixon Pg2

Bob Dixon Pg3

My days at St Albans R.C. Secondary boys school

1960 I got my 11 plus results, no grammar school but ”a border line case” much to the amusement of my family. I am one of six children, “he’s a border line case!” they were shouting to one another.

Through this dilemma I had the chance to attend the now long goneTechnical Grammar School, there was one in Padiham a few miles from my Great Harwood home and one in Darwen a little further away.

No! No! you aren’t going there was being banded about, they are not catholic!!

Being brought up in a practicing Roman Catholic household, the last thing I would be allowed to do was to go to “Padiham Tech”!

After a few days deliberating my parents, John and Hilda decided a good R.C. secondary modern in Blackburn would be the answer. A step up from “St Huberts” in my home town, and still keeping me under the guidance of the church.

We had the long summer break before then so lots of mischievous fun and adventures to be had before then, with my friend Denis. jumping the stream, birds nesting and going down to my Dad’s hen pen. Denis’s parents has secured a place for him at Preston Catholic College, where his uncle a priest was a teacher there, so I was in good company.

So St Albans  R.C. secondary for boys was the one.

My forst day came, new uniform, bus pass, dinner money so off I went on the Ribble B13 bus. A bit nervous I remember and we all gathered in the playground, we were called out in order and sent to our allotted classrooms.

St Albans was located in a part of Blackburn that was being cleared of unfit housing. One of my memories was sitting in class watching workmen demolish empty properties with a huge metal ball being swung by a crane. Being in the first year, whether it was to help us settle in or not we had one of the two female teachers the school. This was a false sense of security, because we were all about to find out about the corporal punishment that was about to be dished out over the next 4 years! The female teachers could administer the cane just as well as any of their male counterparts! In fact I can recollect “Haggis” as she was known for obvious reasons used to jump up on the down swing. I kid you not! The stick was used with regularity throughout the day.

We soon learned how to avoid a thrashing because that is what it was, all the teachers used a cane, I would say between 20 and 30 inches in length and was used on your flat open hand. The dosage varied according to the offence. Usually 2 to 4 thrashes. If for instance you had been caught talking mallarking about you would be called to the front of the class and told to extend your right hand fully out. You would then receive a sharp swipe from a shoulder height swing, the pain was excruciating. next the order would come to put your right hand out again for the same treatment. If the punishment was for 4 thrashes the left hand was then used. If you withdrew your hand when a swipe was coming, you would be threatened with another swipe, which incidentally you could not help but do.

I remember the pain being so severe that crying was inevitable, and do you know that even the toughest lads in the class  never made fun of anyone who had been thrashed because they knew how much it hurt!!

I remember getting through my St Albans years trying to avoid the bulls, and the cane and just wishing my time away until I could leave at 15. Whether I received a better education than at my home town school of St Huberts is debatable. Certainly not like the one I might have had at “Padiham Tech” thats for sure.


Categories: School days

5 replies »

  1. I remember those days of corporal punishment too. I had the strap once in junior school. I was about 7 and a model pupil really but one day the kid in front of me was talking and I just leaned forward and told him to be quiet, the teacher spotted me and hauled me out in front of class. What a witch ! But it was quite normal back in the day. I managed to avoid the cane at a later junior school and It made me cry when others were getting caned for practically nothing, being a minute late into class, talking in line up after a lunch break pretty much anything the teachers could dream up as an excuse. They would even make the poor kid go and get the cane, thereby making him part of the sadistic decision. It was always the same lads and sometimes girls too, who were punished. Some on a daily basis. So something was not working.. Once I got to grammar school the worst that could happen, no matter what you did wrong, was a 100 lines or detention. The latter was no problem for me because the girls who travelled by train had to stay back in school until it was time to go for the train. The school wouldn’t keep us in longer than half an hour otherwise we would miss our train and there was not another one for an hour. Loved junior school, hated grammar school for the most part. Totally wasted on me. Should have gone to a technical school I think.


    • Goodness me. How awful. I must have spent many woeful hours doing lines. Sometimes one would go down the page writing all the ‘I’s then all the ‘must not’s and so on. I suspect that the only result was wasting paper, though we did have to write on both sides!


  2. This was my Dads story and its the first I’ve heard about his story from his school days! It’s amazing how times have changed! Thanks for blog- very interesting.


    • Thank you for the comment Andy. This is just the sort of response we hope to get from our followers! Dad has another story in his mind and I cannot wait to hear it. With your help in telling people, especially old people that we are here for them we can make this fun for all us oldies. xx


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