The Glebe School in 1908
(Washington, Tyne Wear)

By Audrey Fletcher
Copyright 2013
The Glebe School, Washington Station was built in the aftermath of the Glebe
Pit Disaster which occurred on Thursday 20th February 1908. Fourteen local
miners lost their lives that day, having been crushed and burned to death after
a fire damp explosion. Some of their graves can still be seen on the right-hand
side at the entrance to the Washington Village Cemetery.
Glebe Pit Disaster 20th February 1908
Postcard courtesy of Edwin Fletcher
Spirits were at low ebb. In Middlefield Row alone four families were in
mourning. Nine families in Brady Square and one family in Home View
were also in mourning.

With the building of a new school at Washington Station families were able to
see evidence that there was at least some future for their children. The Glebe
School was officially opened on 27th August 1908 by
Councillor Thomas
Richardson and had its first intake of students at the beginning of the new
school year on 1st September the following week.
The Glebe School was opened 27th August 1908
Postcard. Photographer unknown
He was born 23rd August 1878 at Swaffham Bulbeck in Cambridgeshire. When
he left school at age ten it was expected that he would follow in the family
tradition and work on the land as a farm labourer. He did for a few years, but
becoming dissatisfied with that way of life he joined a Circus and travelled the
country. Gradually “Dick Hullyer” worked his way up from being a groom to
becoming a tent master. He was a man of such great strength that he used to
help raise the main pole, which supported the circus tent frame. His career with
the circus ended when he came to Washington, County Durham in 1908 for it
was then that he met and later married Mary Ellen Haylock. He was ready to
settle down as he had developed a bad back from working in the Circus.
My grandfather, William Richard Hullyer, helped to build the Glebe School.
William Richard Hullyer and his wife Mary Ellen Haylock
on their Wedding Day in 1909
Photo courtesy of Audrey Fletcher
Dick Hullyer considered himself fortunate in finding a job as a builder’s
labourer. He was used to working in the fresh air and the Glebe School was
only a minute’s walk from 6 Nelson Street where he was then boarding with the
Haylock family. He loved his job and there was an air of optimism: a new
school and perhaps a better future for the children of Washington Station.
The Girls’ section of the Glebe School was opened on the 20th September 1909
(This was Miss Swaddle’s classroom in the late 1950s ... we had the same desks!)
Photographer unknown
My Grandad Hullyer was sad when the building of the Glebe School was
finished, there had been great camaraderie among the workers and although
the wages weren’t big he enjoyed the job. Fortunately there was a mini building
boom, due to the influx of workers into the area, and the whole team of builders
went on to build the terrace houses in Glebe Crescent.
By Audrey Fletcher


Updated 2015
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The Glebe School
in the 1940s
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The Glebe School
in 1950
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The Glebe School
in the 1930
Councillor Thomas Richardson
Photo courtesy of W. P. Richardson
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a Biography of
Councillor Thomas Richardson