www.Poundswick .org.uk

Main demolition starts


A final tour and last goodbye to Poundswick . . .

During the first week of October 2010 I got word from one of my local 'spies' that things were hotting up on the demolition front.  A set of portakabins had been erected on the front car park (the front lawn in Poundswick's days) and fencing had been erected round the whole Poundswick site.  I rang one of my contacts at Balfour Beatty who explained that they'd spent the last fortnight doing a 'soft strip' in which all the room contents and furnishings had been taken away.  He confirmed that demolition would start within a few days.  I asked him if it would be possible for me to have a last look round before the bulldozers went in, and to my surprise he said it would be O.K.  So on Friday 8th October I duly presented myself at the site office at the agreed time of 10.30 a.m.  I was soon fitted out with the necessary safety kit: wellies with steel toe-caps, a hard hat, high-viz jacket, gloves and safety glasses.  My Balfour Beatty guide was Tim Spencer who was kind enough to accompany me while I wandered round the site in my own time and in my own order.  It was so refreshing that in the 21st century where time is money and everyone's in a rush that Tim genuinely understood and appreciated my mission and was happy to devote time and effort to help me achieve it. 
I took my camera and I offer below a selection of the better (and perhaps more poignant) results. 
Warning: they may make you weep!
Here's the view that had excited my local 'spy'.  A big blue fence round the site and a portakabin village on the car park.  Note that some windows are out on the upper floor of the Science Block.

Digger and Science Block square up to each other. 
'Just you try it', says the S.B.
'Don't worry, I will!' replies the digger.

The main entrance (minus doors!)
I had the proper name reinstated
specially for the occasion. 

Yes, it's the Main Hall.  Sad, isn't it?

When I last visited the school in 2001 the hall floor was covered with carpet tiles but these had been scrapped as part of the 'soft strip', so under the muck and rubble we could see the familiar brown and yellow squares again.

The Main Hall from the stage end.

Not so obvious, this one; think about it for a minute!

It's the Dining Hall viewed from the serving hatch end (the hatch is to the right of where I'm standing).  The solid wall on the left used to be the swinging bamboo partitions, and the line of blue pillars used to be the outside glass wall.

Anyone for more treacle sponge?

There was a huge hole in the glass side of the hall and here's a view of the back of the main teaching block through it.  Note the general shabbiness and the boys' and girls' entrances now boarded up. 

From the stage end of the main hall it was only a short hop via the back of the dining hall to the boys' gym (the lower of the two).  The demolition contractors were using it as a wood store.

In 2001 the upper (girls') gym was in immaculate condition, with its ropes and wall bars much as new.  So I was horrified to discover that since then it had been divided into two, with a corridor down the side.  Each of the rooms had walls painted black (although with much - presumably recent - graffiti).  According to my guide, one room was used for 'dance' and the other for 'drama'.  Hmm.

You'll never guess where this is, so I won't ask you.  It's the erstwhile girls' showers and changing room right at the top of the gym block stairs.  It's evidently been a classroom for many years, as has the boys' changing room below it.

Part of the handicraft block. 

This whole area has been mucked about so much over the years that it was difficult to work out which bit this originally was.  My guide assured me that the structure of the ceiling is such that this is definitely part of the original building.  I think it's probably the woodwork shop; it seemed to be in roughly the right area.

Conversely, this room hadn't changed at all.  It's that rather strange little room behind the library, which had a second entrance (behind where I'm standing) leading down a flight of steps to the handicraft block corridor.

I  remember it well because it was my form room in the Upper Sixth (1963/4), with Mr. C. P. Blackburn as our form master.

The Library.  You surely recognise it!

This is the top of the 'staff only' staircase, with the Small Hall on the left and offices (the most important of which of which was Miss Champness's) on the right. 
The brown doors in the background lead to the first floor corridor of the main teaching block.

I had a quick wander into the Small Hall but didn't recognise it because it had been divided into several smaller rooms, one of which had a 'new' entrance just out of shot on the left of this photo.

Passing through the brown doors in the photo above, here's the first floor corridor.  The blue doors on the right lead to one of the two main staircases.

Old Poundswickians of a musical disposition will instantly recognise this as Mr. Welton's music room on the top floor.  When I showed him this photo he particularly recalled the radiator, which was comfortably adjacent to his desk!

Here's the far end of the second floor corridor.  The room on the left was Mr. R. M. Smith's Geography room and the one on the right at one time belonged to Miss O. Wainwright, who taught French and Latin.  The east main staircase is behind the windows on the right, and the door on the left was to a lavatory, but I can't remember whether it was boys' or girls'.  No doubt someone will remind me!

And here is the east staircase looking down from the top . . . . .

 . . . . . and up from the bottom.

The staircase woodwork was original and in remarkably good condition.  I hope it gets re-used somewhere!

The ground floor corridor from the hall end. 

The blue door on the right (with the light streaming through) leads to the west staircase, the blue door on the left is to the girls' entrance and toilets.  The open doors further down on the left are to the staff room.

And here is the staff room.

I've been a Poundswickian for 53 years and this was the first time I'd set foot in this forbidden enclave!

This one might surprise you.  It's room 6, at the far (eastern) end of the ground floor corridor, on the left-hand side.  It was located at the corner of the building and originally both walls were glass, which made it a very light and airy room.  When the 'new' extension (visible through the window) was built onto the end of the main block the end wall became solid.

For some time room 6 was occupied by Mr. R. Wilson who taught R.E. and English.  He was my form master (and this was my form room) in the third year (3L, 1959-60).

Back at the other end of the ground floor corridor, here's the Headmaster's office on the left, with the Secretary's office further down (facing the chap in the dayglow jacket).  The stairs are the 'staff only' staircase.

Do you remember the three indicator lamps outside the Headmaster's office, labelled 'wait', 'enter' and 'engaged' ?
I can recall being sent to him (usually by Hutch) on several occasions to report  my misdemeanours, knocking on the door and waiting with a heavy and anxious heart for one of the lamps to light!

A right turn from the photo above points you at one of the sets of doors into the main hall.

The 'staff only' staircase.

The Science Block had been well-and-truly gutted by 8th October.  All the benches, cupboards, sinks, cabinets, fume cupboards etc had been removed and each room was just a shell.  This is Mr. Owen's Physics Lab on the ground floor.  I stood for a few moments half expecting him to appear, complete with gown, through the glowing door as if he'd been 'beamed up'.

The big General Science Lab on the upper floor.

I remember as an eleven-year-old walking into this shiny new lab in 1957, full of excitement at the prospect of studying Science for the first time.

The 'stepped' marks on the wall give this away.  It's the lecture theatre.

Here's a rear view of the main building with the main hall on the right.  The tree is roughly where the statue used to be.

Note that the upper floor still retains its original light blue glass panels.

The front looks much tidier because the old glass curtain walling was replaced in 2000.  Note the security shutters over the ground floor windows.  Wythenshawe was a pretty rough place even in the 1950s but we managed to get along without security shutters.  How times have changed.

I'd very much like to thank Tim Spencer of Balfour Beatty, pictured here, who kindly agreed to be my 'minder' and guide while I wandered round reminiscing and taking photographs.  It would have been so easy for him to refuse my request for a last walk round and it says a lot for Balfour Beatty in general and for Tim in particular that the significance and importance of my visit was recognised and understood.  These pictures, taken on 8th October 2010, are the only ones in the public domain that show our school in its final days before the bulldozers went in.  I hope you enjoyed browsing them and that they brought back some memories of happy days half a century or so ago.

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