Rhubarb Fields

I remember my Dad telling when I was a child that where my school in the city was built had once been open countryside. In the early part of the twentieth century the area had been on the edge of Leeds.

There had at one time been extensive Rhubarb production in the area stretching all the way to Wakefield. It was an important centre for the production of this crop and was known as the ‘Rhubarb Triangle’.

There were also many allotment gardens. My Dads grandfather had used three of them to feed his family of fourteen children. There was a coal mine way out in open country between Leeds and Rothwell.

Little by little the area was subject to developement. A power station came and went. Factories and warehouses have just kept on coming.

In the 1960’s my high school was built. A modern, concrete, comprehensive idyll. Acre upon acre of sports fields. Progressive and dedicated teachers. It was a good place to be schooled. Much was covered that wasn’t on the syllabus or in exams.

Successive national and local governments in this country have meddled with schooling. I think this only makes life harder for teachers and pupils. Continuity in education would be a good thing.

In time my school was run down to a shadow of its former self. Ultimately closing and being demolished within about fifty years of it opening. All part of a bigger plan I guess. There aren’t really enough local high schools in Leeds anymore. Most kids were once within walking distance of a high school. Now buses and cars are necessary for a lot of children.

If you were wondering what the point was of these inane ramblings I’m getting to it.

Recently on holiday I took a photograph of Kinlochbervie School in the northwest of Sutherland in Scotland. It is the white building in the far distance. I believe it takes all ages of children from the area.

Previously I was told High School children had to board elsewhere during the week. I was thinking what a wonderful a location this is for school.

At the time I wrote a six word poem, ‘ Wish that had been my school’. My point on reflection is that I probably don’t. I’m sure it’s a wonderful place to teach and learn. It is definitely in one of the most stunning settings I have ever seen for a school.

My school was surrounded by sports fields. Beyond its boundaries was a backdrop or factories, foundries and row upon row of terraced houses. Life though is what it is and the school among other things made me what I am.

Thanks to those teachers who put on the the musical shows or took us hiking and camping. The one’s who talked politics and current affairs with us. Even the one’s that we bumped into in the pub on a lunchtime when we had called in for an under age pint with a sandwich and game of pool! It was an alright place and time to go to school.




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