Schools & Education 1961 – 1980

July 1961

Bowburn Modern School held its third annual sports day. Durham House won both the girls’ and boys’ aggregate. Individual winners were:

Girls (junior) – 80yds: Margaret Willis.

Girls (intermediate) – 80yds: Pauline Dee; 150yds: Norma Carr; discus: Doreen Robson; javelin: Ethel smith.

Girls (senior) – 100yds: Sylvia Wright; 150yds: Sylvia Wright; javelin: Maureen Maddison; discus: Carol Ramshaw.

Boys (junior) – 80yds: John Thompson; 100yds: John Ferguson; 330yds: Norman Spence.

Boys (intermediate) – 100yds: Malcolm Carruthers; 220yds: Sidney Scarr; 440yds: Malcolm Carruthers; discuss: Bernard Saunders; javelin: Robert Andrews.

Boys (senior) – 100yds: Graham Field; 220yds: Keith Cheetham; 440yds: David Noone; 880yds: Geoffrey Gilson; discuss: Eric Pratt; javelin: David Sudder; shot: Geoffrey Gilson.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv., 28 July 1961, p.13.)

July 1962

St. John’s Church Youth Centre reported a successful season, with a number of prizes and awards.

They were 5th in the Netball League. The girls were 2nd and the boys 3rd= in the Table Tennis. John Malkin & George Charlton came third in the Public Speak competition and G. Reed and B. Noone came 5th. John Malkin also came 1st in the Prose Reading and Christine Thom came 3rd. The team won the George Kudge Cup. Wilfred Heightley was one of nine boys representing the diocese at the Archbishop of York’s Conference at York.

Miss Joan Marr received her Youth Club Leadership Certificate from Durham County Education Committee.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv., 13 July 1962, p.14.)

April 1963

First batch of twenty-four 15 & 16 year old recruits started at the new Ministry of Labour’s training centre at Tursdale Workshops.

They came from Consett, Stanely, Crook and Bishop Auckland. The next batch was recruited in November through Youth Employment Officers, from Wingate, Wheatley Hill and Houghton-le-Spring, to start on 14 January 1964.

The courses were “special training course for boys from Co. Durham mining areas, who had been unsuccessful in obtaining employment suited to their capabilities on leaving school”.

(Sources: Dur. Co. Adv., 1 November 1963, p.6 + 8 November 1963, p.11.)

25 October 1963

DJ Evans Youth Club (known as “the Boys’ Club” – though its charitable aims were to provide a service for both boys and girls) was opened by HRH the Duke of Gloucester, President of the National Association of Boys Clubs, and Mr. F. W. Fry, Area General Manager of No. 4 Area and president of the Club. It replaced Bowburn Boys’ Club, which had been founded by D. J. Evans in 1937, but did not have its own premises. The new premises cost £14,000. Half was paid by the Ministry of Education, a quarter by Durham County Education Authority, £2,000 by CISWO, £300 by the National Association of Boys Clubs and the rest by the club itself.

“The new L-shaped premises, which will accommodate a membership of 100 boys and eventually 100 girls, include an entrance with coffee bar, large hall, leader’s room, changing room and showers and toilet facilities. “A special feature is a floodlit playing area at the rear, making possible outside activities during the winter.” – Durham Advertiser 25 October 1963, p.16.

The Club was named after headteacher of Bowburn Junior School, David J. Evans. It retained the “Boysie” (Boys’ Club) nickname, despite equal emphasis on boys and girls in its foundation document. D. J. Evans was the club’s treasurer. Its chairman was Cllr. J. J. Ramshaw; its vice-chairman Walter Harrison; secretary James Griffiths, and club leader R. Knox. Other committee members were S. Charlton (collliery manager), G. Johns & R. Smith (under-managers), A. North, S. Mould, J. Wright, G. Knox and J. Griffiths, and Police Sgt. G. Hardman.

The land was leased by the NCB to the National Association of Boys’ Clubs for £15, p.a. from 25 October 1963.

Peter Robinson (19), international right-half and captatin of the Durham County Boys Club football team that had won the national trophy at Crystal Palace in 1962, presented a chrome-plated miniature miner’s lamp to the Duke. Robinson himself was presented with a gift from his fellow members. The Duke of Gloucester had visited the youth club about nine years earlier, when they were in the old Institute premises.

Another famous visitor in the 1960s was Frankie Vaughan, singer, who visited the Boys Club on behalf of the National Association of Boys Clubs. He also gave a concert in the Miners Welfare.

(Sources: Dur. Co. Adv., 25 October 1963, p.16 + 1 November 63, p.18.)

November 1963

Miss Mary Wilkinson (76), of 1, Surtees Avenue, died. She had started school at Tursdale at the age of 5 and became a pupil teacher and later a teacher there.

Altogether, she spent 60 years at Tursdale School. She was also a well-known vocalist and church organist at Tursdale. Rev. J.G. Cox conducted the funeral service, at Durham Crematorium.

(Source: Dur. Co. Adv., 8 November 1963, p.14.)

19 October 1964

Trust Deed/Lease signed for the DJ Evans Youth Club, by representatives of CISWO (who owned the land), the National Association of Boys Clubs (who “owned” the building) and the club committee.

The building was already in use – see 25 October 1963. The four committee reps. (the trustees) were David John Evans (of Burnlea, 6, Wylam Terrace), chairman; John James Ramshaw (of 12, Oxford Tce), secretary; James Griffiths (23, Bede Tce), treasurer, and Walter Harrison (12, Grange Park Cres), a committee member. Witnesses were Stanley Norman Mould (labourer), 6, St. John’s Crescent; Walter J. Chitty (electrician), 1, Romaine Square; Vernon Campbell (schoolmaster), 26, Bede Terrace, and John Fawcett (clerk), 32, Durham Road.

(Sources: Charity Commission website; Lease.)


Bowburn Secondary Modern School Brass Band was formed, under the direction of Mr. D. H. Whittaker. It was in demand for functions at Christmas and many entertainments throughout the year, entered a number of competitions, and gained a number of certificates with marks of distinction.

Mr. George Eales took over responsibility for the band in 1974. (He continued to lead it, through the formation of Landsdowne Comprehensive School in 1976, till that closed in 1985.)

(Source: Record sleeve of “Bowburn Secondary Modern School Band” (c.1975?).)

11 February 1965

Coxhoe Modern School was officially opened.

The school was later merged with Bowburn Modern School to form Landsdowne Comprehensive School.


Thomas Sutton Gill became headteacher of Bowburn Junior School.

He had started his teaching career at Bowburn (see, for instance, 1952) and then gone to teach elsewhere [at his native Brandon?]. Mr. Gill was to remain at Bowburn until his retirement in 1993.

He was also a noted local politician, being Chairman of Housing Services on City of Durham Council (see March 1988), for many years, and then Council Leader in the 1990s.


Bowburn County School became Bowburn County Junior Mixed School and moved to new premises at Surtees Avenue.

The headteacher was Thomas Sutton Gill (1967–1993). The formal opening was on 15 October 1975. For some years prior to the move, the school had used a number of demountable classrooms on the original site.

9 October 1974

An open meeting of the Parent Teacher Association at Bowburn Infant School was addressed by Keith Grimshaw, Senior Assistant Director of Education, about future of education in Bowburn. He explained how proposals to bring in comprehensive secondary education throughout the county would affect Bowburn. The proposals he outlined were those recommended by the Working Party on Secondary Re-organisation in the Spennymoor Area, on 11 September 1974.

The proposals included bussing chidren from West Cornforth, who had previously attended Coxhoe School, to Spennymoor, as part of the “interim measure”. Longer term, Cornforth children would return to be part of the single site comprehensive at Bowburn. When it was pointed out that this would leave Spennymoor short in the future, Mr. Grimshaw dismissed this as a problem, saying that Spennymoor was due to expand.

Durham County Council were proposing, “as an interim measure”, the formation of three split-site comprehensive schools, each with 6-form entry (900 pupils each): (a) Bowburn & Coxhoe Schools (11–16 years), (b) Spennymoor West & Spennymoor Secondary Schools (11–18) and (c) Tudhoe Grange Secondary School, using its existing split site premises (11–16). All the sixth form would initially be at the Spennymoor Comprehensive School.

“Eventually, as resources become available, three purpose built comprehensive schools will be established by the extension of Spennymoor Secondary, Tudhoe Grange Secondary and Bowburn Comprehensive School” (extract from County Council press release). The field between the pit baths and the allotments was reserved for the future single site school at Bowburn.

This “interim measure” proved later to be an interim before a quite different arrangement. With unknown irony, the PTA publicised its meeting with the question, “What sort of schools will there be for Bowburn’s chidren in 2, or 5, or 10 years’ time”. Ten years later, the new Landsdowne Comprehensive School was being run down, prior to closure in 1985.

(Sources: Letter from M. Syer to Mrs. Curle, Chairman of the Working Party, 25 November 1974; minutes of Working Party meeting on 11 September 1974; DCC press release, Sept. 1974; Bowburn Infant School PTA poster.)

28 October 1974

A public meeting was organised by Durham County Council at Coxhoe Secondary Modern School, about plans for comprehensive reorganisation.

It was followed three days later (31 October 74) by one at Bowburn Modern School.

(Source: Mike Syer.)

21 November 1974

Public meeting organised by the “Bowburn Group for Comprehensive Secondary Education” at Hare & Greyhound Public House.

15 October 1975

Formal opening of the new Bowburn County Junior Mixed School at Surtees Avenue, Bowburn. The ceremony was performed by Cllr. George Fishburn, who was the local County Councillor (i.e. for Coxhoe Division) and that year’s Chairman of Durham County Council.

The school had actually moved from Wylam Street in 1974.

(Sources: Plaque in school; Bowburn Interchange no. 15.)

23 July 1976

Coxhoe and Bowburn Secondary Modern Schools were amalgamated to form Landsdowne Comprehensive School.

Bowburn became the lower site (Years 1 to 3) and Coxhoe the upper school (Years 4 & 5).

(Sources: Durham Record Office; Mike Syer.)

24 January 1978

A public meeting was held at Bowburn Community Centre [Miners’ Welfare Hall] to consult residents on the creation of Bowburn Conservation Area.

The Conservation Area was to consist of the colliery streets south of the Library, the former NCB cottage dept., the Wheatsheaf public house and Bowburn Infant School.

(Source: Original notice of meeting etc.)

4 September 1979

The central Bowburn colliery streets, including the Wheatsheaf, the Infant School and the NCB cottage department were designated as Bowburn Conservation Area.

The designation followed a survey of residents in December 1977, a public meeting in February 1978 and discussions by a working party consisting of eleven residents, the Parish Clerk (then Tommy Attley) and representatives of Durham City Council (then Cllrs. Tommy Marsden, Colin McCormick, Jos. Wright and Jack Ramshaw).

The Wheatsheaf later became The Cooperage and the NCB cottage department became Burke’s and then R&C Builders’ yard, and was eventually demolished and replaced by Charlesworth Close. The NCB first started selling its houses at about this time, many of them having stood empty in the mid- to late-70s (including half of Clarence Street and a third of Steavenson Street). Bow and Burn Street were not included in the Conservation Area.

(Sources: City Council Design & Conservation Unit; M. Syer.)

16 July 1980

Derek Sowell, the Director of Education, presented a report to the County Council Education Committee, entitled “Falling rolls in primary and secondary schools: strategy for the 1980s”.

The Report said that school closures were inevitable.