Schools & Education 1981 – 2000

30 December 1981

Durham County Education Committee approved the closure of Landsdowne Comprehensive School – and other measures to deal with falling rolls in the county, including the closure of five comprehensive schools altogether. The previous summer, Deputy Director of Education, Mr. Keith Grimshaw, had led consultation on the proposed closures.

Maurice Crathorne, Coxhoe councillor, quit the Labour Party in protest.

The Landsdowne Action Group called its first public meetings on 24 June 1981 and 25 June 1981 in Cassop (?) and Bowburn Community Centres. They led the campaign to keep the school open for over a year. The County Council organised public meetings at the Coxhoe and Bowburn sites on 3 July 1981 and 8 July 1981, addressed by Mr. Grimshaw. He had reported that the split site Landsdowne Comprehensive School had 840 places but only 769 children, predicted to reduce to 555 by 1987. He was recommending closure in July 1984 and gave “a guarantee that your children will go to the schools named” – basically Johnston for Bowburn, Gilesgate for Cassop & Kelloe, and Tudhoe Grange for Coxhoe.

(Sources: Mike Syer; “Falling Rolls” report; Dur. Adv., 1 January 1982; N. Echo 13 January 1982.)

15 March 1982

A delegation of members of the Landsdowne School Action Committee met to prepare their meeting with the Minister, seeking to save the school from closure.

Those who attended included Colin McCormick, of Bowburn. They met Rhodes Boyson, the Junior Education Minister (under the Education Secretary, Sir Keith Joseph) in London later that month.

(Source: Mike Syer – personal notes.)

September 1982

Sir Keith Joseph, Secretary of State for Education, rejected pleas by Landsdowne Action Committee to keep open the split-site comprehensive school. The school closed in 1985.

In March 1983, Keith Joseph rejected Durham County Council’s plans to close Greencroft Comprehensive School in Newton Aycliffe. Mr. Grimshaw, Deputy Director of Education, declared that he couldn’t understand it, as “at least one other school” – presumably Landsdowne – had had a stronger case for staying open, but Joseph had approved its closure.

(Sources: Mike Syer; Dur. Adv., 1 October 1982, p.1; Radio Tees 16 March 1983; Northern Echo 12 May 1983.)

19 July 1985

Landsdowne Comprehensive School closed. The final year’s Year 5 left on 24 May 1985, returning only for exams after that. The final Year 3 started Year 4 at their new schools in September 1985. The Landsdowne School Band had given a farewell concert on 22 May 1985. The Bowburn school site was advertised for sale in the Durham Advertiser on 13 June 1985. The school was boarded up in January 1986, after considerable vandalism.

In 1982/83, all five year groups were at Landsdowne (Years 1 to 3 at the lower school at Bowburn, and Years 4 & 5 at Coxhoe). In 1983/84, there were four year groups present (Years 2 & 3 at Bowburn and Years 4 & 5 at Coxhoe). In 1984/85, both Years 3 and 5 were at Bowburn.

The upper site at Coxhoe closed on 20 July 1984 and remaining staff transferred to Bowburn. During the final year, there were only two year groups: 80 boys and 63 girls in Year 3 and 69 boys and 67 girls in Year 5. There had been no first year intake since September 1982, 1982/83 being the last year with all five year groups. In September 1983, Year 1 had started at their new schools and in September 1984, Year 4 had done likewise (instead of moving to the upper school). Nineteen members of staff had left in July 1984, including two retirements (Miss A. Smith and Mr. D. Wilcock) and twelve who were redeployed to other schools in County Durham (Mesdames M. Adamson, J. Orford, J.M. Race, G.A. Rowe and I. Watkin; Miss M. Cook, and Messrs. B.P. Gregg, R.M. Hartburn, G.A. Kershaw, D. Smith, D.H. Turnbull and N. Wright). Mr. G. Eales was redeployed to Durham Johnston but retained 60% of his timetable at Landsdowne for the final year.

The remaining 17 teaching staff (not including Ian Bolt, headmaster, and temporary teachers) either retired (Mrs. D. Carruthers and Messrs. R. Welch and N. Fawcett) or were redeployed (including Mesdames M. Mears, E. Harland, L. J. Lax, E. Levison and I. Barrass; Miss I. A. Smith, and Messrs. G. P. Adamson, W. D. Moore and B. Sutherland) at the end of the last school year. Non-teaching staff were similarly re-deployed or retired or took voluntary redundancy.

(Sources: M. Syer; Durham Record Office; Headmaster’s reports to school governors 10 July 1984, 19 March 1985 & 2 July 1985; Dur. Adv., 13 June 1985.)

1 March 1988

Communal hall opened at Lawson Road, Bowburn by Cllr. T. S. Gill. This was the City of Durham Council’s 26th such communal hall.

Mr. Gill was also headteacher of Bowburn Junior School. He was pictured in the Echo with Mrs. Prest.

(Source: Northern Echo (or Durham Advertiser?) March 1988– Rita Irwin’s scrapbook; plaque at Lawson Road.)

18 January 1993

Barratts of Newcastle were granted planning permission to build 160 houses and 15 bungalows, “Croxdale Park”, on the site of Bowburn colliery pit baths and Landsdowne Comprehensive School.

The plans superceded permission given contraversially by the County Council, to Shepherd Homes, two years earlier. The new scheme was to include provision of traffic lights at the Post Office corner. Barratts actually built only 70 houses. The rest of the estate was developed later by McLeans.

(Source: Northern Echo (or Durham Advertiser?) 18 January 1993– Rita Irwin’s scrapbook.)


Thomas Sutton Gill, headteacher of Bowburn Junior School, retired.

The new headteacher was George Ford.

8 May 1995

Parade and Family Fun Day organised by Bowburn Village Celebration on 50th Anniversary of VE Day. The Fun Day, including a hot air balloon (paid for by the new Roadchef motorway service station) and the Bowburn Celebration Whippet Open Handicap (organised by the regional Whippet Racing Association), was held in Bowburn Junior School field and the (not then separate) “Daisy Field”.

It was agreed afterwards to make the Fun Day an annual event. It was moved to the first Saturday in June in 1999, and then from the Junior School field to the community centre in 2001 – both moves being because of bad weather. For the same reason (weather), it was also then agreed to move the event to the first Saturday in July.


Bowburn Juniors was twinned with a school in Amiens, France. Older pupils correspond with French pen pals.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 1.)

September 1996

Mrs. Lynne Lyons became headteacher of Bowburn County Junior School, after Mr. George Ford left to become headteacher of a larger school, Reid Street Primary School, at Darlington.

Mrs. Lyons did not commence duties immediately, having broken a leg shortly before the start of the autumn term. A temporary head was drafted in, in her absence.

March 1997

Children at Bowburn Junior School started work on a “Bowburn Treasures” wall hanging, assisted by art teacher Fiona Bernhoeft and two volunteers, Lillie & Bob Bellis.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 3.)


An Arabic School began at Bowburn Community Centre.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 10.)

20 September 1997

A re-union was held at Bowburn Community Centre, of people who had attended Bowburn Modern School in the 1960s. It was organised by John Gray, Allan Crathorne and Dennis Smith. A surplus of £88, after all costs had been covered, was donated to Bowburn Junior School. John Gray presented a cheque to Ernie Mann, the deputy headteacher.

(Sources: Bowburn Interchange nos. 3 & 4.)

About November 1997

The Mayor of Durham, Cllr. Neil Griffin, made an official visit to the site where Jones Court was being built for the Durham Aged Miners Homes Association. He planted a “time capsule” of items collected by children from Bowburn Infant and Junior Schools.

Jones Court was opened by the Prince of Wales on 2 July 1998.

(Sources: Bowburn Interchange nos. 4 & 5.)

25 November 1997

Start of Bowburn village appraisal, “Making Bowburn Better”. (It continued till Easter 1998.)

The appraisal included:

• a questionnaire for young people, put together by some young members of the Appraisal group: Ian Barrass, Nancy Bewley, Neil Blackburn, Janette Hargreaves, Catherine Heron, Tony McAuley, Craig Strong and Barry Youll, assisted by Susan Heron (DJ Evans Youth Club) and Jill Essam (Durham Rural Community Council),

• a household questionnaire distributed in Bowburn Interchange,

• public meetings and

• a “planning for real” exercise, using a 3D map made by children at Bowburn Junior School, with the help of Richard Hirst, of East Durham Groundwork Trust. The map first went on show at the school, on 25 November 1997, and was used at subsequent public meetings to identify areas where improvements were needed.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 3.)


Staff and children of Bowburn Infant School helped raise £245, to purchase four wheelchairs for children in Nigeria disabled by polio.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 7.)


Durham Johnston Comprehensive School started a weekly After-School Learning Club, at Bowburn Community Centre, led by Deputy Head Carolyn Roberts.

(Mrs. Roberts subsequently left to become headteacher in Hartlepool. See January 2005.)

(Sources: Bowburn Interchange nos. 7 & 10.)


Children at Bowburn Infant School produced a tapestry and a ceramic wall plaque to mark the start of the next millennium. Mrs. Sandra Withnall was headteacher.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 10.)

May 2000

Bowburn Junior School’s “Song for Europe” came top in a county-wide competition. Written by Mr. Simpson, it was sung by a party of twelve children, whose costumes were made by school governor and parent Mrs. Nadia Johnson.

The Song for Europe was one of the school’s several recent Euro Projects, which included pen-friends in twinned schools in Germany, France and Finland; a quilt made three years earlier; production of a ceramic panel, and a storytelling circle on the school field.

The Junior School choir performed the Song at the following year’s Fun Day (on 2 June 2001), which, for the first time since Bowburn Village Celebration (B.V.C.) started organising Fun Days in 1995, was not held on the Junior School’s field and the Daisy Field. (It was held at Bowburn Community Centre, instead, after the Fun Day on 3 June 2000 had ended in a quagmire, after torrential rain.)

(Sources: Bowburn Interchange nos. 13 & 14.)


Children at Bowburn Junior School created a Eurogarden as part of the school’s Millennium celebrations.

They were helped by artist-in-residence David Gross.

(Source: Nothern Echo 12 April 2000 (

June 2000

OFSTED Inspectors, led by Mrs. R. Eaton, produced a glowing report on Bowburn Infant and Nursery School, following their inspection on 3rd and 4th April. “This is a very good school. Pupils achieve high standards, particularly in English. Their attitudes and behaviour are very good, and their personal development is excellent”, they reported. The leadership of headteacher Mrs. Sandra Withnall was described as “excellent”.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 14.)

July 2000

Both Bowburn Infant & Nursery School and Bowburn Junior School were awarded the Basic Skills Agency’s Quality Mark.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 14.)


A Millennium CD Rom was produced, about life in Bowburn in the year 2000. Organised through Durham Rural Community Council, with the main project worker being Sandra Moorhouse and finishing touches being made by Karen James. The CD included interviews with representatives of Bowburn Junior School, the D. J. Evans Youth Club, Bowburn Village Celebration and Bowburn Senior Citizens Club, as well as a camcorder film of the village.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 16.)

Autumn 2000

Bowburn Junior School celebrated 25 years as a separate Junior School with a series of special Silver Jubilee events. These included a visit from a theatre company which performed the “Legend of the Golden Dragon”. Parents enjoyed a Jubilee concert at which children performed a special song entitled “Celebration”, written by teacher and ex-pupil Mr. Paul Simpson. Former Headteacher Mr. Tom Gill attended one of the concerts and spoke to parents and pupils about his pride in the children of Bowburn, whom he missed greatly.

(Source: Bowburn Interchange no. 15.)