I was from Fleetwood and took the number 14 bus every day to Layton Square and then walked up to the school. I remember being forced to wear short pants for the first year and the obligatory school cap that was soon lost on top of a building. In the summer months, and when the Illuminations were on, the buses and trams were so full of tourists that we often ended up walking half way home. When it rained we would arrive at the school soaked and be forced to endure lessons sitting in our wet clothes.

My English teacher and form master in the first year was Mr. Turner - also known as Sutch. I do not know why but he took an instant dislike to me and I spent many an English lesson, bent over at the front of the class, with Sutch occasionally whacking my behind with gym shoe as he passed.

Discipline was harsh with very little Christian spirit being shown by the Christian Brothers. Br. Ryan who taught us chemistry had his strap loaded with pennies, and would administer the strap in the chemistry lab where the raised bench allowed him to trap your fingers between the bench and the strap, adding to its effectiveness. Br. Devitt, Deadrocks, was another sadist who would happily whack you in the head for the slightest misdemeanour.

I guess I was naive at that time and never noticed any homosexual tendencies in the Brothers, but hearing later in life of the abuses carried out in other Christian Brother run schools, I wonder what other abuses besides the physical discipline went on, particularly with the boarders.

The music teacher, I forget his name, who taught the stringed instruments, was so wimpy with his strap that we would amuse ourselves by lining up for the strap and laughing in his face as he tried uselessly to inflict pain. Many times he was reduced to tears by this practice.

School dinners were held in the main hall and were disgusting.  We used to climb over the wall at lunchtime and go to the local shop to buy a meat and potato pie or sometimes just a loaf of bread.

Every Wednesday we were crowded onto a bus for the trip to the school playing fields were we taught the rudiments of rugby or forced to run cross-country. This was another chance for the Brothers to beat up on the boys. There were also school sports days held at Stanley Park. For the less sporting among us this was just a good day out.

Other teachers I remember are Mr. Jones who taught biology, Hassett the maths teacher, who walked around all the time with his robe swirling, Ted Schools who took us for PE, Pete McCarthy, who later went on to be headmaster, Mr. McGrath who I was fortunate never to have teach me. Mr. Hickey was the boxing coach who later went on to coach the England team.

Other teachers names I have forgotten, the guy who taught Latin and was deadly accurate with a thrown missile at any boy he caught not paying attention, the cute blonde French teacher who totally failed to interest me in the subject.

Streaming was carried out after the first year, with the top performers being put into 2A and the rest being split between 2B and 2C. After the second year 2B and 2C were streamed with the academically weakest, or least motivated, being put into the C stream.

Things improved when we moved up into the sixth form.  A common room were smoking was allowed, no restriction on leaving the grounds at lunch time and no obligatory rugby or cross country. The uniform changed to black blazers and white shirts. Sixth form dances were held at the Catholic Club, with the girls from St. Mary's. Being made a prefect charged with enforcing the rules that we had so happily broken, and allowed us to take our revenge on the younger kids, for punishments we had received.

Leaving St Joe's was very anti-climatic, no graduation ceremony or long winded speeches from the teachers. We took the A-level exams and once they were finished, I never went back to the school again.  While I am thankful for the education I received there, that allowed me to go on to university and a fulfilling career, the psychological scars I picked up there during my formative years still haunt me.  I have very few positive memories of my time at St. Joe's, which is sad somehow considering it was supposed to be the best time of our lives.

Shortly after I left, the school merged with St Mary’s Convent and became co-ed.  I left the area, and in 1984 left the country. I was surprised to find when I briefly visited Blackpool in 1986, that the school buildings had been knocked down and replaced by a housing estate. Not surprisingly, I did not feel sad or nostaglic.

I have lived in Canada for the past twenty-three years and only occasionally visit England. I have lost touch with all my former school mates, some of whom are now dead. I hope this web site is more successful than then the Incrucea Vitae website that was around several years ago.  Any one who is the Montreal, Quebec area who wants to contact me feel free to do so.

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