Memories of St Joseph’s 1959 -1964

Before I got there

What? I have to go to school on a Saturday morning as well!! Fortunately, this archaic practice was kicked into touch after my first year.

First day

Having my head shoved down the ‘bog’ in some sort of initiation ceremony. Later that same day – being marched, by the ’Bung’, to his office to have my name entered in his ‘black book’ for doing something of a very minor nature (I can’t remember what).

First week

Being warned to keep away from the ‘boarders’ (pupils living on the premises throughout the week, or term). The ‘boarders’ were generally to be feared as they were considered ‘hard’ having become so through living away from home. It was rumoured that anyone who upset them would later be found hanging by their arms on the yard railings.

Being shown how to wear the school cap – never pulled on properly – just perched on the back of your head (otherwise you were considered ‘nerdy’).

First month

What? Only rugby? No football?


Got quite into rugby. Got into the school team. Really loved it, diving at opponents legs and bringing them crashing to the ground – until someone’s boot studs carved a great gash through my top lip and nose. Ouch!! Went off rugby, quite quickly.

I decided I would rather play football with my mates in Fleetwood so told the school I was packing in rugby. Brother O’Sullivan ‘persuaded’ me (in a very menacing fashion) that that would be a bad idea as it was very likely that my academic prowess ‘might suffer also’.

Oh, how I hated rugby from that point on – especially playing teams from Liverpool, who invariably looked like they were men and we were boys!

Cross country

Made the team – but later, wished I hadn’t (after all, you didn’t get given any less homework but you had to train two nights a week and got home one hour later, at least).

Always getting beaten by Michael Bridge!

Someone whose first name I can’t remember, surname Blackburn, who thought he would ‘forget’ about the competition with Hodgson School at 4.30 one afternoon and quickly get off home. The Brother in charge sent someone after him, on a bike, and Master Blackburn had to run all the way back to school under threat of a good ‘strapping’. He got back, just had time to change, and then set off round Stanley Park like a ’bat out of hell’, winning the race by minutes – the only race he ever won, I think - and the only time Michael Bridge had to settle for second place.


Watching a rotund (some might say fat) classmate positioning his homemade ‘starting blocks’ for the 100yds sprint. It was the first time anyone had used starting blocks – and it looked like he’d made them from ‘Meccano’. Oh, how we laughed – until he slaughtered the field and finished first by a ‘mile’. He later became the ‘star’ three quarterback in our house rugby team and was virtually unstoppable if the opposition allowed him to ‘get up steam’.

Lay Teachers

I don’t remember disliking any of the lay teachers - but thought Mr Freeborough (Physics) was especially good. He held the class’s attention by making each lesson interesting - without any need to read from, or refer to the syllabus/manual

‘Christian’ Brothers (I use the term loosely)

Brother O’Brien – a schizophrenic maniacal music teacher with a penchant for inflicting serious bodily harm upon anyone stepping slightly out of line (in or out of the music room).

Brother O’Sullivan – Looked like he’d been hewn out of rock. Could be frightening without actually resorting to fisticuffs.

Brother Liddane (or ‘Noddy’ as we liked to call him) – Often threatened hellfire, but was a bit of a softy really. Used to punctuate nearly every sentence with several ‘Er’s which all the class used to count throughout the lesson to see if yesterdays total could be beaten.

The Strap

The favourite means of punishment. Dished out liberally for even minor misdemeanours. I remember the whole class getting it on several occasions. If you got it while your hand was cold (from playing outside in winter) it felt firstly like your hand/fingers had been snapped off and then like it was on fire for what seemed an eternity before you got any proper feeling/movement back.

Speech Days

Spending several half, or whole, days sat in the Winter Gardens rehearsing for - I can’t remember what (speeches, I suppose). Then, the day itself, which included prize giving (I think) and a speech by some bishop who always gave us a day’s holiday from school – to a barrage of cheers from all those assembled.

Classmates and acquaintances

I’ve looked at the school photos, and wow, its amazing how names come flooding back to you. I don’t think I’ve seen more than half a dozen though, in the forty odd years since I left.

I don’t really think about the school itself – but occasionally a picture of someone, or some name, from the past will enter my head:

Alan Backhouse - How we used to laugh at the very first Morecambe & Wise shows, shown on black and white TV the previous night.

Alec Ross - with whom I used to run down Collingwood Avenue most nights, trying to catch the Number 14 bus at Layton Square (and whose sister, Patsie, I had a ‘crush’ on),

John Street and ‘Shosser’ - who introduced me to the joy’s of watching Blackpool Football Club (who were then in the First/Premier Division), and also to ‘train spotting’.

I hope they are all well.

Mike Siddall

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