Washington County Durham


Memories of ...

Biddick School

Biddick School

Biddick School

Situated in Washington Station at the junction of Oxclose Road and Albert Place.
[ Note the Spire.  It was visible from the School Swimming Pool. ]

Biddick School - across the Waggonway

Looking across the Colliery Waggonway at Brady Square - circa 1900.
Biddick School is on the right - at the entrance to Albert Place.
[ Note the School Sign in front of Anderson's Newsagents. ]

The Headmaster

Headmaster Frederick Hill
1885 - 1955
[ For more information about Mr Hill, go to What's Where; People; Hill - Frederick etc. ]

Biddick School Swimming Pool

( The first in Washington - Thanks to Headmaster, Mr Fred Hill. )

[ That's Mr Hill at the left hand corner of the swimming pool.  Note the School Spire. ]


Extracts from an anonymous article posted by the Washington Star, 22nd February 2013

• Fred Hill was a formidable character best known for leading the fight to save Washington Old Hall from demolition.

• One of his lesser known feats was organising the building of an open-air swimming pool for children at Washington's Biddick School, of which
    he was Headteacher.

• Local authority plans for swimming baths had been dragging on for some years without any sign of success, but Fred wasn't the kind of person to
    hang about for too long.  In May 1931, he drew up estimates for materials, and the month after, he organised a meeting of townfolk, among them
    unemployed parents willing to provide the labour without reward.

• The site of the pool - the first of its kind in what was then County Durham - was marked out that same day on land next to the school and
    excavation took only a week.

• The pool measured 49ft by 23ft and was 9in deep at its shallow end and 4ft 6in at the deep end.

• Such was Fred's tenacity that in July - just six weeks after the public meeting - the baths were opened.

• As Sheila Arbuckle says in her book Frederick Hill and Washington Old Hall: "It was a truly remarkable event given the time, the place and the
    economic climate."

• The opening ceremony was, at Fred's insistence, attended only by those directly involved in the pool's creation - workers and donors of cash or kind -
    about 120 guests altogether.

• The workmen and their wives received a 'good substantial meat tea' and the others were served light refreshments.

• Proud of his unemployed parents' efforts, Fred wrote to Jack Lawson, MP for Chester-le-Street and secretary to the Ministry of Labour, telling him
    how 46 jobless men had worked on the baths.  He added: "Don't you think mention of this is good material that you may use to confute the charge
    'lazy dole-drawers'?"

• During the following year, more than 50 children learned to swim, and in September 1932, the first annual swimming gala was held there.
    The gala involved several local schools and consisted of exhibitions given by local swimming champions, a diving contest and novelty events.

• The boy's champion cup winner was Fred's youngest son, also called Fred.  He later had aspirations to be an Olympic swimmer but was told by his
    dad to get a proper job instead.

• Sadly, by 1936, the baths had to be closed and, says Sheila, there are no records of why this happened.

• The land must have been filled in because it later became part of the garden of a house adjoining the school.

[Thanks to Washington Star]

Biddick School - 1950

Biddick School Class 1 - 1950

[ Thanks to Jeane Armstrong for sharing the above Photograph and Information. ]

Biddick School - 1950

Biddick School Class 5 - 1950

The Notice Board seems to say Biddick School - 1950, Class ?3.

Biddick School Football Team

Biddick School Football Team

Taken from an original picture supplied by Team Captain, Geordie Barker.

Biddick School

Washington Staion Map

Biddick School is the large building on Albert Place at the junction with Brady Square.

The Silver Lining League

Silver Lining League - 1st Anniversary

A Ladies' Group for mutual friendship and cooperation.   They met once each week in Biddick School.

Silver Lining League - 2nd Anniversary

The above photograph was probably taken at the Second Anniversary, judging from the two candles on the cake.
My Mam - tall, dark hair, white collar - is standing between the two ladies at the table.

Silver Lining League Party

This photograph was taken at the Silver Lining's Coronation Celebration in 1953, held at Biddick School.
My Mam, wearing a dark outfit with light blouse, is centre of photograph i.e. the first person on the right hand table.
On her left is her sister Eva Moon and fourth from the left, on the left side of the left table, is my cousin Alwyn Moyle (née Reay).

Mam’s name was Mary Edith Reay, née Donaldson.  She was the daughter of Tommy Donaldson, one of the Washington Volunteers
featured on This Website - see Red Link, above.  Tommy fell on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
His pet name for her was Maryeth as on the postcard he sent from France.

Mam married Dad, Henry (Harry) Reay, in 1936. They had a daughter Lorna, who died of diphtheria in 1939,
then two sons - me (Ken) followed by Henry (Harry).

[ Photographs and Comments:  Thanks to Brady Square Lad, Dr Ken Reay DSc.