Within these Walls … a History of Coatham School’
by Peter Chester
3pm June 30th 2012 in Coatham Memorial Hall Redcar
A reunion of ‘old boys’ by Peter Chester
In this year of anniversaries, we can add Coatham Memorial Hall Redcar to our list.
It opened 80 years ago in the summer of 1932, as the School Hall of Sir William Turner’s School Coatham, and served the school for 30 years until 1962.
The original Sir William Turner’s School was founded in Kirkleatham in 1709 thanks to the philanthropy of Sir William Turner, former Lord Mayor of London, who also founded the Almshouses in Kirkleatham. The school moved to Coatham in 1869, where it remained until 1962 when it was given a new building on Corporation Road Redcar. That building was demolished in 2012.
When Coatham Memorial Hall was opened it was the centrepiece of a major extension to what in the 1930s was known as ‘Coatham School’. The Headmaster, Canon H.D. Littler had made the school into a public school, and the new ‘Great Hall’, as it was called, with its extensive oak panelling and “a touch of Tudor feeling” was designed to reflect the prestige of the School. It even had adjoining cloisters to house the School’s War Memorial, which is nowadays located on Corporation Road outside Redcar & Cleveland College.
After 1945 the School became a North Riding county grammar school, Sir William Turner’s, and generations of local boys passed through the Hall. Old Boys of the school, ‘Old Coathamians’, may well remember the School’s two post-war Headmasters, Mr. R.W.G. Willis and Mr. S.G. Barker.
In its school days the Hall, which retains several of the original features, was used daily for assemblies and was fully equipped for school drama and musical performances. When the Victorian school building on Coatham Road was demolished in 1962, the Hall was saved and used by Redcar Council, but in recent years it has found a new lease of life and public use thanks to the activities and enthusiasm of Frankie Wales and the Redcar Development Trust. It is for example, the home of Redcar Amateur Boxing Club and Redcar Jazz Club.
However, for Old Coathamians, it will always be their school hall and on Saturday June 30th at 3pm there will be a talk given in the Hall by Peter Chester, entitled ‘Within these Walls…. A history of Coatham School’.
The talk (approx one hour max) is open to the public and it will be a light-hearted review of Sir William Turner’s School from the 1920s to the 1960s. The talk will be illustrated with photographs from the time, which it is hoped, will stimulate memories of those attending, many of whom may well be Old Boys of the School. People attending are free to bring along photographs and any other memorabilia as it is hoped the event will provide an opportunity for members of the audience to talk together and share memories.
Peter Chester is an Old Coathamian and former History teacher at both Sir William Turner’s Sixth Form College and Redcar & Cleveland College. In 2008 he was commissioned by the College to write a commemorative history called ‘New lamps for Old – a hidden history of Redcar & Cleveland College’ much of which covers the history of Sir William Turner’s Schools since the first one was founded in 1709. Since publication in 2010 he has given numerous talks about the School and Colleges.
Admission to the talk is FREE admission but prior booking would be helpful to the organisers on:
Tel. 01642 483263 or email firstname.lastname@example.org