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Newtown County Infants' School, Seaham Road, Market Place, Houghton-le-Spring

Newtown County Infants School was a small school located in Houghton’s Market Place, just off Seaham Road. Its admission register dates from 1910, however the building is featured on the 1895 OS map. The school closed around 1965 when the more modern primary schools were being built in Houghton, including the nearby Gillas Lane Primary School.

Newtown County Infants' School, Seaham Road, Market Place, c1963
The school was subsequently demolished and the site built on, with the school yard acting as an apparent haulage yard. Two former pupils of the ‘little school in the Market Place’ share their memories of attending: Copyright © Books of the North 2011

“I enrolled in Newtown Infants School at 5 years old in August 1930. The school was in the form of a letter L with the cloakroom, which was also the entrance, in the corner of the L. The schoolyard gate was slightly offset from the Seaham Road with the Pasture Burns alongside. The toilets were at the top of the yard. Beyond the cloakroom was Miss Adamson’s classroom. She was also headmistress. The next class was taken by Miss Willis and the third class by Miss Horn (whose family owned the drapers shop up near the Pit School). This class was separated by a partition from the second class. After the third year, the pupils left to go to either St Michael’s Church of England School (which was where the Rose Garden is now in the Park) or the Council School in Newbottle Street. Pupils who attended alongside me were: Mattie Laverick; Ronnie Robinson; Ernest Laws; Martin Hunter; Margaret Barrow; Beatrice Harrison; Alice Corn; Agnes Wood; Isabelle Stokoe; Sybil Vayso; Emmy Stokel; Fred Stokel; Chrissie Hatton; Jack Wilkinson and Dickie Orley. Later pupils were Edna Walker; Billy Cummings; and Mollie Carr.”
Isaac Cowler

Newtown County Infants' School, Seaham Road, Market Place, c1963

“For some strange reason my grandparents sent me to ‘the little school’ in the Market Place, at the bottom of Seaham Road. It only had three classes and I can only remember one teacher, a Miss Robson. I used to go out of the yard with the boys at dinnertime, along the Pastie Burns (Pasture Burns), which was a little stream that ran around the school and disappeared underground. I usually got wet because the lads threw me in the burn because I played duffers (who dares). Many times we ploughed our way to school, with snow over our welly tops. No day off school then. We loved it! The aged miners houses were opposite the school and I would sometimes go there to listen to the tales of the pitmen, of how they went down the pit when they were only small. When I was little I thought all daddies were black with red eyes then they got white when they got to be grandads!”
Ruth Scott nee Ritchie


Article and research by Paul Lanagan, local historian

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Paul Lanagan wishes to place on record his thanks to the following:

With thanks to: Ike Cowler and Ruth Ritchie for sharing memories; Joan Lambton; and to Lena Inch for the photograph.

Copyright © Books of the North 2011.

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The Gilpin Crest as adopted by Houghton

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