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History

Rockcliffe School opened on 22nd June 1906 in temporary buildings in Rockcliffe Street. It was known as Whitley Council South School but became two separate schools; infant and juniors in 1909.  Construction of the present building began in 1910 and it was used for the first time on 1st May 1911. The schools remained completely separate for fifty one years, until in April 1960, due to a decreasing child population, they were amalgamated to form Whitley Bay South Primary School.

The Infant School was on the lower floor and the Junior School upstairs. The Junior School actually catered for children up to school leaving age for many years, and children who did not pass a scholarship for the grammar school at the age of eleven would have remained here for the rest of their school careers. 

At the outbreak of the First World War the school was requisitioned by the Military and closed for a full five years from October 1914 to September 1919.  During this period the school was forced to share buildings with Whitley Bay North Schools (which became Marine Park). Children only had half time education during these years with the North Schools using the building in the morning and the South Schools in the afternoon.

The work of the two schools progressed well during the inter-war period. They were both highly regarded with many glowing H.M.I. reports and visits to the school by students, university departments and teachers from other schools, suggesting that there was much innovative work going on here.

There were plenty of opportunities for sport; though perhaps not surprisingly they seemed to be more geared towards the boys; a swimming club at the Table Rocks Pool and use of Rockcliffe Rugby Club field (now Rockcliffe Park) for rugby. Woodwork was provided for the older boys and domestic science for the older girls, both at the North Schools.

The Second World War did not result in school closure as had happened in 1914-1918, though it did have a significant impact on school life. Air raid shelters were built in the school yard and were used often during daylight air raids and all children were issued with gas masks. There were many heavy night time air raids which resulted in regular school closures.
 
Rockcliffe became a major evacuee centre during the war. At one point there were 74 evacuees on the register, many of them being from the London area and some from Holland.
 
The air raid shelters were demolished in the early 1950s and the other building project of the time was the creation of the new school canteen in 1950 by converting Buist’s Garage on Rockcliffe Street into the Rockcliffe Dining Room. This remained in use until July 1971. It was on the site now occupied by the Guardian Court flats.
 
The two schools were amalgamated as a primary school in 1960 and later became Rockcliffe First School in 1973.

Find out more on the Rockcliffe Remembers website