After the Spain and Portugal sketches, I’ll step back a few more weeks to the England part of the trip, for this post at least. This is Goldbeaters School in Burnt Oak, sketched early in the morning when I was awake with the jetlag and wanted to go for a little walk to see what had changed in my old home town. Burnt Oak, for those of you not familiar, is in the northern reaches of London, the second to last stop on the Edgware branch of the Northern Line, and it is is where I am from. Burnt Oak has changed a lot for sure but I’ll always be from there, and since my family still lives there I will keep going back. Another change this time, the Tesco on Burnt Oak Broadway has closed down. I really don’t know why they would do that (I really do, though: to build expensive flats). That was a shame, because it means now there is no Tesco in Burnt Oak, and Burnt Oak is where Tesco actually had its first store, in 1929. I will miss Tesco in Burnt Oak. I remember going shopping there with my mum as a little kid, she’d bump into her friend Lyn and they’d talk for half an hour, the Indian ladies on the checkout were always very nice to me, then we’d pop into the Stag next door to say hello to my nan, go into John Ford across the street to buy sewing materials, stopping by the greengrocers on the Watling to get five pound of of potatoes, and I’d maybe get a Slush Puppy from ToniBells on the way home. Yeah I hated being dragged around shops as a kid actually, I just wanted to go to Vipins and look at pens and pencils. And don’t get me started on being dragged around shoe shops in Brent Cross, to this day I can’t spend more than a minute in a shoe shop without saying “are we done yet?”.
Anyway enough childhood reminiscences. Well maybe some more. This is Goldbeaters School. Where is that name from? Much of Burnt Oak was built on the old Goldbeaters Farm, which goes back to the 14th Century. I attended Goldbeaters from the nursery (1979?), through the infants (1980-83) and through the juniors (1983-1987), before going off to big school at Edgware. I loved Goldbeaters. I’m so glad it’s still there, looking not very different from the day I left, from the outside at least. My mum went there too, back when it was a secondary (‘senior’) school. My oldest friend Terry, who lives in Japan now, that’s where I met him (though we only swapped football stickers, we actually became friends after we both left for Edgware), and his mum also went there (not at the same time obviously). My next door neighbour Tasha went there, we would walk to school together, her mum would pick us up, we’d walk through the park and play on the swings on the way home. Years later her kids went there too, and she worked there. Yet none of my siblings went there, they went either to Barnfield School (next to Silkstream Park) or the Annunciation (same street as Goldbeaters, but that school is for Catholics, and I’m not a Catholic). My old Goldbeaters friends, I hold such affection for to this day, though I’ve not seen many of them since then: Ricky, Daniel, Lee Glenn, Carl, Wayne, Lee Fickling, Hartman, Duggan (who is sadly no longer with us). And many others. We were very international too, with families from all over the world, all backgrounds. My old teachers, Mr Winston, Mrs Baldwin, Ms Welsh. Ok, ok, we can all do this, draw a picture of the school we went to and remember our old teachers and friends, and that is always tedious to read. Ok then here’s a few more memories that pop up randomly about Goldbeaters from the 1980s. Those outside toilets which were just the worst, basically a metallic gutter behind a wall. Football stickers on the playground when someone would knock them in the air and shout ‘scramble’!! Buying those buttery biscuits for 2p at break-time. Singing “All Fings Brite and Byoootiful” in morning assembly. The noise in the lunch hall getting so bad that the dinner ladies would bang a massive metal spoon on the table and shout “SHUT-UP!!!” and it would go silent, for a few minutes. In fact that lunch hall (which was also the gym)… the terrible ‘mashed potato’ which was white and powdery and tasteless, the peas which are actually the reason I don’t eat peas to this day, bringing a packed lunch of pork pie, yoghurt and sandwich and not being allowed to go out an play until I’d eaten up the whole pork pie, horrible jelly and all (I don’t eat pork today either, I’m seeing a pattern emerge). Mr Bunster attempting to teach us to sing “Little Donkey”. Kids vomiting on the playground, and instead of cleaning it up the school would cover up the sick with sand. Grazing your knee on the concrete playground and going to the medical office where Mrs Lyons or Mrs Eftychou would douse a piece of cotton wool with a stinging antiseptic and hold it against the wound. Carl Sanderson making us always play ‘Hammer House of Horror’ (I always wanted to play ‘Star Wars’). Getting to be the one who rang The Bell for Home Time. Being on the team that beat our local rivals Woodcroft School in the ‘Panda Competition’, a quiz organized by the local police. Winning a borough-wide pottery competition for a ceramic butterfly I made. Drawing, drawing, drawing all the time, being known as the kid who draws all the time and holds his pen in a funny way. I could go on, but I won’t. I’m surprised I remember so much.
16 thoughts on “goldbeaters”
What a pity that Tesco closed!! I like your painting though :)
Yeah, it’s a real shame, it was a good store for the community, now there aren’t many big name shops left in Burnt Oak.
Aww, I love your stories of old burnt oak. I have fond memories of riding round the north road estate (my home for 18 years) on my bmx or my skateboard and playing in the silk stream. You have done so well to take yourself stateside. I hope Terry P is also well. All the best – Julia (used to be Gilhead)
Hi Julia! Nice to hear from you, I hope you are doing well. Yes, there are a lot of Burnt Oak memories, but I do go back at least once a year. I should draw Edgware School and try to remember Edgware stories, but they knocked it down a few years ago and now it’s the London Academy. Maybe I can draw it from a photo? Terry is doing ok, he lives in Japan now, but he’s the same as always. We chat a lot online, but I’ve not seen him in over a decade.
Once again beautiful paintings.
Lovely portrait of your old school and I enjoyed reading your reminiscences. We are the same age so it actually prompted lots of memories of my own primary school days. It’s good to remember I have some happy memories from my school years – less so my high school years for sure.
Yeah, I think I even remember more about primary school than secondary school. Memory is an interesting beast. Having the buidling still exist helps though – my old secondary school has been knocked down for several years now, replaced with something modern and called a different name. Schools are different over here in the US too, my son’s elementary school campus is so open, none of these high walls and gates.
Agreed. My kids are having a completely different school experience here in the US than I had in Scotland.
I was the kid who was always drawing too. Used to get into trouble for absent mindedly spilling my drawing over one of desks and text books lol,
…onto desks …
Yeah, thankfully drawing never got me in trouble, but I did draw a lot in my textbooks. Adding football shirts to people in my French books, mostly.
I went to Goldbeaters seconndary modern school just after the war finished .At the time I was living in Hampstead Garden suburb to get to school i used to get a Trolleybus to Golders Green underground station and then travel to Burnt Oak Station then walk to Goldbeaters school .
I remember the playground used to play football with a tennis ball, we only had half of the playground as the girls had trhe other half .I did play one game for the school,the pitch was not flat it went uphill so it was easy to put the ball over the defenses head the goalkeeper did not stand a chance ,needless to say we lost 7-1.
Wow, that was a while ago! Long way to come from the Suburb. I’ve not been there in years, I did a few waitering jobs down that way when I was younger. My mum went to Goldbeaters in the 60s, I love that the old building has so much history. Football with a tennis ball, we used to do that too in the 80s!