Starting Year 1956
Gateshead Grammar School

Reunion for 1956-1963 cohort
Lunch at the Baltic, Gateshead Quayside was held on Saturday, 31st August at 12.30

The 1956-63 cohort had a reunion on Saturday 31st August at 12.30 in the Baltic, on the Gateshead waterfront. 
As it was 50 years since we separated, David asked "how about a reunion? I can be reached on "
David Riddle
Report on the Reunion 


Colin Hay writes

 "came upon your web page and I am fascinated with the photos.However I need a bit of time to absorb all of your info.I attended Gateshead Grammar School between 1956-1961 and recognise most of the buildings and locations although not many of the faces.Most of the teachers are familiar.I had many a whack from Slipper Sam's plimsole and do still poccess a class photo with our form master 'Wacky Jacky Robertson' I do recall the incident when Tom Thumb's mini was carried into the courtyard.I believe that was in the summer of 1961. I also used to spend a lot of time with Lee Hetherington during the late 1950's although he probably doesn't remember me these days."

Jack Bickerton started out a buyer and changed to sales, in the fashion business and ultimately in Kitchen and Bedroom Design. Divorced from wife Rosemary; they have a daughter Ruth and son John. For many years Jack played guitar in  local groups and cut a record which got into the top ten...
...thousand. Now retired, Jack lives at Heworth, Gateshead. Still an NUFC fan


John Stoker worked in Local Government for most of his career and has now retired. His wife Pauline still works for Gateshead Council so John had (he's finally, finally retired), not just a part time job, but an M&S part time job. With their son Luke they live at High Heworth. Still an SAFC fan. John played in the short lived football team, described by Jim Farquhar in Starting Year 1952


Per Friends Reunited, Derrick Noble went into catering and held various management positions including postings to Cyprus/ Tanzania/ Seychelles. Self employed since 1982, owning various catering outlets. Closed last one in 2003, now doing consultancy work. Married to Irene, also from Gateshead. 2 sons, Christopher and Nicholas, 25 and 22 respectively. Now living in Llandudno (North Wales) and have done since 1978. 
He left Gateshead Grammar in 1961(at 16) but remember the names of some of those lads who left in 1963 - the brainy ones who stayed on to 6th. form. 


Richard Merelie.
His claim to fame is that he designed and produced the Christmas card featured on the Homepage

Richard writes

The idea for the Christmas card emerged from a feeling of pride being at the school, and wanting to promote its image. It sounds a bit pretentious now, but it was genuinely felt at the time.
I recall knocking in trepidation on the Headmaster’s Office door at the end of the Main Corridor. “Come back with some designs and prices”, he said. So I did. Apart from trying to get the message right, the biggest decision was whether to have a blue or maroon bow on the front! Blue seemed a bit more sophisticated.
The cards were made by Norman Ward Limited on Kells Lane, Low Fell. The company was founded in 1919 and moved to those premises in 1930, but are probably no longer there. I still have a copy of the card, signed by classmate “Gavin”.
I studied Town Planning at Newcastle University, went to Edinburgh for 2 years to do research, then worked in London for 20 years and later in the Bristol area. Recently retired. Married Susan Charlton from the Girls’ Grammar. We both went to Low Fell Primary, where we were taught by my mother, though not at the same time. We have a son and a daughter.
I recall very well the experience of Slipper Sam’s slipper. Also, Music Master’s (Forster) cane – 6 of the best to the assurance that “This hurts me more than it hurts you boy”. Then there was Art Master’s (Doxford?) ¼ inch thick leather horse strap. That stung too.
Not forgetting the art of balancing perilously on a chair trying to decline “bellum” whilst being finger poked in the ribs by Latin Master (Fawcett). The bullying style of swimming teacher Sarsefield (?) put me off learning to swim for many years.
And there were all those detentions and lines. To me, the most memorable was “I must eschew chewing chewing gum in class” x500. The meaning of eschew is still well engrained.
Despite all that, I still have my Student’s Report Book, my blazer badge and my 1961 Long, framed, but not yet hung. Otherwise, I’m reasonably normal.
Incidentally, I appear on the top row of the 1961 photograph, 5 along to the left of Malcolm Burns.


Albert Victor Watson writes

 I was at GGS from 1956-61, and I was in the same class as Mal Burns, your photographer,
who I seem to remember being known as "Man Mountain" Burns. I am in the 1961 panoramic.
I was friendly at the time with Gavin Hugh Kinnaird Christie, George Edward Potts (with whom I'm still touch), Keith Hazlehurst, Everard James Walton,
( a fellow fan of the guitarist Duane Eddy), Edgar Luxton (the only person I knew who knew more about rock'n'roll than I did), Stuie Walton (who was so cool that I got excited when he invited me to go to the pictures with his gang at a cinema in Low Fell)....those are the names that spring to mind.
I left during the first term of Sixth Form and got a job as an office boy in the newsroom of the Evening Chronicle.
This led to 23 years in journalism in Newcastle and London, then at the age of 41 I was ordained as a Church of England clergyman,
and am now Rector of Tye Green in Harlow, Essex.
My brother David was also at the school about six years later than me, and is now retired and living in Turkey. I didn't get into trouble a lot, but I remember being sent to "the Boss" (Dr. Caffrey?) for wearing a CND badge.
Was there a teacher (who lasted only one term) who preached Communism and hit pupils on the knuckles with the edge of a ruler, drawing blood
....or is that a weird nightmare???
If there is any way of hearing from anyone who remembers me, I would be interested.


 Stephen Aynsley joined GGS in 1956 and academically thrived there.  He thought Mr Mock was fantastic and loved his classes.  He became a Chartered Engineer (Per Brenda Aynsley, his sister)

Albert Watson says "I was at Gateshead Grammar from 1955 or 1956-61, in the same year as Mal Burns, who has provided pix for the website. Would love to hear from anyone who remembers me on " He is on GGS Facebook page

George Alan Smith (known as Alan) writes:
 I started at the school in 1956. I attach two photos still in my possession. On the first photo, below, (which is probably 1958/59) I am in the front row, second from the right. On the second (1960/61) I am in the back row, fourth from the left.

Left click on photos to enlarge

Also on these photos I remember these names: Gavin Christie, ?Robson, Robert Reid, Albert Watson, Stuart Walton, Everard Walton, David (known as Jimmy) Riddle, ?Hewitson, Malcolm Burns, Neil Nicholson, and Joseph Smith.
I also see myself in the photo of the science lab already on the homepage of the website, where I am second from the left, with Robert Reid third from the left.
I have to confess to being the swot who was always top of the class (except once when I was beaten into second place by Stuart Walton). This came to an unfortunate end in the first year of sixth form, when I crashed out with a stress disorder and had to leave. That was a shame, because I was doing well in Maths with Louis Theakstone (who also tried to teach us some Russian!). However, this experience taught me that psychological problems were more interesting and challenging than Maths, so after recovering and taking my A-levels at Newcastle College of Further Education, I went off to Exeter University to do Psychology. Then I went to London (Maudsley Hospital) to train in Clinical Psychology. In 1971 I took  up a job in Worcestershire NHS, developing a clinical psychology service.
Since retiring, I have been attempting to be an author. My experiences in the NHS are described in 'From Tests to Therapy: A personal history of clinical psychology', published two years ago (G. Alan Smith - available on Amazon!). Some time this year I am publishing a book about my childhood, including a chapter about Gateshead Grammar School - will let you know more about that later on. 

Looking forward to hearing more about your book, Alan

Now available from Amazon

Name:  Stuart Walton 

I was prompted by Alan Smith's photos to dig out some of mine.  I remember we had Louis Tardin as Form master for 2 years and Alan's photo I suspect is 5T (me middle row,2nd left).  The one I am sending is 4T ( me middle row,3rd right) .  Also pics of the orchestra (front row 2nd left next to AK Oliver), the Gymnastics team and the Upper sixth (back row,3rd left).

Form 4T
Back row: David Dick, Alan Smith, Gavin Christie, Steve Robson, Keith Hazlehurst,  Barry Nesbitt,  Peter Cox, David Swan, Albert Watson,  Ken Burdon
Middle Row: ? , Malcolm Burns< Malcolm Hewiston, Neil Nicholson, David Riddle, Robert Reid, Ed Morley, Everard Walton, Stuart Walton, ? Tankerville, Steve Mikell
Seated: Malcolm Stewart,  George Carr, Derek Harrison, Robert Tindle, Geoff Oliver, Mr Tardin, Geoff Lowe, Robert Renwick, Peter Johnson, Keith Oliver, Joe Smith

I started at the Grammar School in 1956 from Kelvin Grove School and we were in 1W (Mr Williams). all the names mentioned by Alan and Richard Merilie are very familiar.  Although I loved Art my father told me that there was no money in it so I took Chemistry and Physics at 3rd Form and then Chemistry, Physics and Biology  in 6th.  I then went on to study Medicine at Newcastle University (1963-68) and specialised in Obstetrics and Gynaecology.  After training in Newcastle and Durham I became Lecturer in Nairobi and Senior Lecturer in Wellington, New Zealand before returning to the UK.  I was Consultant and later Senior Lecturer at North Tees Hospital, Stockton from 1980 till retirement in 2006.

Left click to enlarge

Form 6S2
Top row: Peter Johnson, ? ,Stuart Walton, ? ,Neil Nicholson,Richard Merrily, ? , ? ,  ? Walker, David Dick, Geoff Lowe
Middle Row: Robert Reid, Peter Cox, David Swan, Everard Walton, Roger Proud, Malcolm Stewart,  George Carr,  Gavin Christie, Geoff Oliver, Dave Roddick
Seated: Robert Renwick, Malcolm Burns, Robert Tindle, ?Alan Robinson, Keith Oliver, ? , Barry Nesbitt, Michael Wightman, David Riddle, ? , Steve Mikell

Since then I have relocated to Embleton, Northumberland and have eventually taken up Art again (never really left it).  I got  a better grade at A Level than all my science subjects!  Married Jennifer in 1969, we have 3 children and 5 Grandchildren (soon to be 6). Hobbies apart from Art relate to my lifelong passion for Blues music, the result of many drunken nights at the Club A'Gogo!

In the past few years have met up with a number of old friends including Bob Tindle (Prof of Immunology in Australia), Neil Nicholson,  Malcolm Burns, Bob "Radish" Reid, Geoff Oliver, Ed Morley and Peter Johnson (sadly died a couple of years back). Mention was made of Lee Hetherington who is my brother in law.

Would love to hear from any one (email:  

PS Alan I seem to remember beating you into second place twice after which I discovered girls and things went downhill after that!



Also per Stuart Walton, brief details of three more 56ers, no longer with us
Peter Johnson, after O levels did Double Maths and Physics. He studied Civil Engineering at Imperial College and then worked for British Rail until his retirement. He stayed in Gateshead playing for Gateshead Fell. He died in about 2010

Roger Proud did Chemistry, Physics and Biology and went on to graduate in Food Technology. I always remember him as being a very gifted violinist.  He lived in Winchester. He died, aged 66 on 24th Sept 2011.

David Dick died in a car crash in about 1994


July 2015, Allan Whitfield writes
I just found the GGS site and noticed some names I am vaguely familiar with. And I recognise some people in the photographs. Does anyone remember Allan Whitfield? Well, that is me. I think I joined GGS in 1956. Names that come back to me are Roger Proud and Ian? Dixon who we called the Duke of Bensham. There was also someone in the year before class of the same family name, Kenneth Whitfield.
It is over 50 years since I left GGS, and my life and career have been unusual, to say the least. Following a degree and a phd I became a prof in England. Twenty-one years ago I took up a university position in Australia, where I live now. I spent some time in Korea and China. Unusually for my age, I am still working full-time as a university prof. Australia has this very nice law whereby to seek to retire me on the basis of age is against the law. Age discrimination is the same as sex discrimination here.
My email address is:
Editor: Age discrimination is same one is obliged to retire at 65


Feb 2016, Robert Tindle writes

Upon leaving Gateshead Grammar, I did a first degree at Reading University, and subsequently a doctorate at the Institute of Cancer Research, London University. After postdoc-ing in London for a while, I took some time out lived and worked for 5 years as a biologist in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. I subsequently returned to medical research and held posts in Glasgow and Adelaide, Australia. I married Elizabeth, a clinical psychologist, in my 30's, and we have two grown children. Since 1987 we've lived in Brisbane, Australia. In September 2010 I stepped down as director of the Virus Research Centre of the Royal Children's Hospital, and professorial research fellow at the University of Queensland. I say 'stepped down' rather than retired, because I'm almost just as busy in a voluntary capacity with hospital foundation boards and research funding bodies. I do now however have some time to indulge a number of interests which have been somewhat 'on the shelf' for the last 30 years or so, including cycling, a bit of swimming and I'm taking classes in short story writing (It is remarkable how a teacher can leave a mark, and Eng. Lit. teacher Mr JR Brown did with me. Does anyone remember the 'History of Mr Polly'?). My links with the North-East are now rather tenuous as residual family progressively diminishes. However my love of the Northumberland countryside has not diminished. And I religiously check the fortunes of Newcastle United each week. Those Saturday afternoons on the terraces of St James Park during the 6th form years with Barrie Nesbit, Roger Proud and Nigel Whiteman linger on!
My email address is: