Just like the good old days…

The recent wintry weather has brought back memories of those proper winters we used to get in the seventies. Of course 1947 and 1963 were really bad winters but even I am not old enough to remember them! The really memorable one for me was 1979 when I was on a Geography A Level field trip to Newtondale on the North York Moors with about a dozen sixth formers from Hornsea School along with our teachers Mr LeVine and Mr Elmes.

Now my recollection is a little hazy now thirty years on but it was mid February and we were staying at Raper’s Farm (Grid Ref SE 823938) which at that time was run as an outdoor centre. I was up there last year and it now looks like it has been converted back to a residential property.

Raper's Farm, Newtondale as it is now

Raper's Farm, Newtondale as it is now

Anyway, we were there for a week and did various things that A Level Geography students were meant to do. However towards the end of the week it started to snow as we were doing a shopping survey in Pickering. Fortunately we made it back to the field centre and then finished up being unable to get the minibus back out on the forestry roads that were the only access. So we just sat it out and finished up staying there for an extra three or four days during which time we had to get supplies brought out to us via the North York Moors Steam Railway (except it was a diesel they used!).

Picking up supplies

Picking up supplies

We also spent time wandering over to the Hole of Horcum which was a fair hike down into the bottom of Newtondale and back up the other side.

Doing fieldwork in the Hole of Horcum

Doing fieldwork in the Hole of Horcum

And before anyone comments on the photos being in black and white I was doing O Level Photography at the time and doing my own developing and printing!

We also improvised with large empty plastic coke (the fuel, not the drink!) bags to slide down the forestry tracks before we got a bollocking from a local farmer for making the road into a version of the Cresta Run! After that we used the slopes of Levisham Moor.

When I look back I do wonder what the procedure would be if the same thing happened today – for starters I suspect the trip would not be run in February in the first place but if it was we would probably have been confined to the field centre for fear of coming to any harm in the snow!

A weather chart leading up to that snow event and some more photos can be found at:

The Weather Outlook 1979 Part 1
The Weather Outlook 1979 Part 2
The Weather Outlook 1979 Part 3

I know I’m going to regret this but for your amusement I’m also publishing a photo of our sixth form group when we left school in 1980. Now that’s when I had hair! Happy days!

Hornsea School Upper 6th 1980

Hornsea School Upper 6th 1980


16 Responses to “Just like the good old days…”

  1. I forget just how old you are sometimes bro! J 😉

  2. ayrshiretiger Says:

    Cheeky sod! You’re going to tell me you weren’t even born in 1979 aren’t you!

  3. I was three then! 😉 lol

  4. That cold snap of 1979 actually nearly killed me! In December 1979 we had a major car accident in the ice as my dad was driving home from my grans the car smashed into a tree. My mum hit the dsh board and my dad the steering wheel, both wer in hospital for months and I had to go down to my relatoves in Devon for months. My sister was in a cot and obviously also survived as she was in the cot and only a baby.

    You’ll like this though… when te police came to the scene I was only three and didn’t really know what was going on, but did know what christmas presents were and I wa sin the back of the van opening all the christmas pressies!! Typical eh!?… lol

  5. Big Ig Says:

    The episode at Raper’s Farm has become part of history. Someone recently told me that he had been speaking to a chap at the NYM Railway who was proud of the fact that he once drove an engine to rescue a group of school kids. Small world eh?

    Nice blog BTW.

  6. ayrshiretiger Says:

    Hi Ig

    Brilliant – small world indeed! It wasn’t so much a rescue as ferrying in supplies as even if they’d taken us out on the train we couldn’t have got back to Hornsea from Pickering. Look forward to catching up at the end of May.

    • I have a photo of the group sitting in the kitchen at Rapers Farm. It was a special meal as we thought we would be going home the next morning! 40′ drifts of snow did not allow us out for the next three days. A couple of students worried because they had booked a skiing holiday in Aviemore! Jane Blanchard also wept over losing a contact lens in the snow….needle in haystack syndrome me thinks. I sometimes return to Rapers Farm if only to hear the ghostly screams of students enjoying complete freedom…well almost!

  7. Hi there, im a youngish lad of 29 who had a few good years at rapers farm, i have a lot of amazing memories from there, thanks for the pic of how it looks these days, i heard it got pulled down but im glad its there and love what they did with the place

    • I ran the field centre at Rapers Farm for several years before moving to Hornsea where I used it for “pastoral” & geog/geol trips. It was then bought privately & beautifully updated. I was privileged to visit it several times both during & after its makeover. If the same owners are still there they are very amenable to folks popping in & telling tales of the place. I could write a book about all the adventures I had there with so many superb students! Bless them all!

  8. ayrshiretiger Says:

    Hi Greg, pleased that I’ve brought back some memories for you! It really was a great place especially to be snowed in at. I’m not sure who ran it when we were there but I think our Geography teacher knew about it from connections he had with a previous employer. I’m still in touch with that teacher and he was up there not long ago and the current owners invited him in for a cuppa and let him have a look round!

  9. We used to go with a bloke called Richard Lumley, he was a friend of the family, but he took people with special needs and kids with behaviour problems, we did all sorts, loads of walking hahaha, the main times we went was mid-late november and the summer.

  10. Steve, do you have a higher resolution version of the photo of your sixth form group? If so, I’d be grateful if you’d let me have a copy. Also, if it’s not too much trouble, the names of the students (my memory is fading).

    John Bowman, former Art & Crafts teacher at Hornsea School, 1973 – 1979.

  11. ayrshiretiger Says:

    Hi John, it’s actually a scanned photo but I’m more than happy to send youa copy by email. I’l do my best to give you names of the students. As an aside we are organising a “50th” reunion on Saturday 21st July as we are all 50 this year. So far we have around 25 former students and partners attending. A few former teachers are also hoping to attend (Jonathan Levine, Ruby Seager, Andy Ribee). If you are interested just let me know.

    • Steve, yes please, send me a copy via e-mail. I’m still in touch with a couple of students from your year, I’ll let them know what you’re up to vis-à-vis your reunion.

  12. Just found this! Yes! Its me, Jonathan Le Vine still alive & kicking….though NOT teaching at Hornsea! Love to hear from anyone who went to Rapers Farm or Eigg!

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