Sheffield teacher tells how newspaper clippings reminded her of her first job

A retired Sheffield school teacher has told how find newspaper clippings from The Star reminded her of her first job in Sheffield 50 years ago.

By errol edwards
Friday, 20th May 2022, 3:02 pm
Updated Friday, 20th May 2022, 3:02 pm

Elizabeth Birkby, who was born Elizabeth Osbourne, was originally from Nether Edge but now lives in the Grenoside area of Sheffield.

She worked at several schools in the city including Southey Green Primary and Herries Comprehensive and also taught for nearly two years in Kenya..

She even recalls teaching former World boxing champion Kell Brook.

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All Saints Nursery First school take a trip to Cleethorpes 1973

While looking through some of her old newspaper clippings, she came across a story about events she remembered from her time as a teacher at All Saints Nursery First School.

The school was Elizabeth's first teaching role after completing her teacher training in Hull.

She said: “All Saints First School, as it was then, was my very first teaching job in 1971. It was a wonderful school with dedicated staff, and delightful children.

“The staff were all lovely, just so helpful, supportive, kind, and good spirited with the children.

Demolition of All Saints Church, Ellesmere Road, Pitsmoor, Sheffield, May 18, 1977

“It was a good school and I was 21 – straight out of college”

Elizabeth remembers, just before taking her final teaching exam she received a letter, with good news.

“I got a wonderful letter on the day of my final exams, which I opened on my way to my final exam.”

WIt said ‘Welcome to the staff of All Saints School’ – then I knew, as I had had the interview beforehand, that I’d got a job which was wonderful, I was elated.

The high tower of All Saints Church, Ellesmere Road, Pitsmoor is all that is left of the Victorian stone church which is falling victim to the demolition men, June 8, 1977

“Life was very different then, and teaching was very different.

“There weren't the sort of pressures on you that there are now.

“You very much had a free hand to what you did, not like today where everything is set to a curriculum, it was a nice time to be teaching actually”

Most of the inner city schools had little or no grass areas for play and physical education in the 70s.

All Saints Church, Ellesmere Road, Pitsmoor, Sheffield, September 4, 1959

Elizabeth remembers travelling by bus with the pupils to a park for recreation.

She said: “One thing we did every Friday afternoon, we had a bus that took us to Longley Park.

“We took play apparatus like skipping ropes,and balls, and they just played in the park in the afternoon, it was brilliant.”

Elizabeth has fond memories of working in a “lovely school with wonderful staff and pupils.”

One teacher she remembers with great affection was Connie Quarmby.

“She was a wonderful support when I first started, she’d qualified the previous year,and was so supportive.”

Circa 1972 Children at all Saints Nursery First School

One of the newspaper clips Elizabeth found referred to the school celebrating its 100th anniversary in March 1972. The remaining part of the school building is now 150 years old.

The Lord Mayor, Alderman Harold and Mrs Hebblethwaite, visited the school, and two children dressed as Sir John Brown – the founder of the school and the church – and Lady Brown.

“We had a part-time teacher called Betty Brown who was a whizz at 'cobbling together' costumes for various occasions.

“She always referred to her work as 'cobbling'. The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress visited each classroom in turn, and I remember they were particularly interested in my huge leather-bound family bible which I had taken in and was 100 years old.”

Elizabeth says coming across the cuttings made her realise that it was the 50th anniversary from the centenary – so the school would this year be marking 150 years.

She has so many memories from her time at the school, most good, however she does remember a sad occasion.

“I was in my classroom, which was upstairs, and the headteacher came rushing into my room.

“He said: ‘Have you heard that, have you heard that?’

“I replied: ‘No. What?’

“I hadn’t heard it, the children were being quite noisy, but he’d come rushing in, and we looked out of the window and we could see it all.”

The event Elizabeth remembered was the Effingham Street gas explosion October 1973, which claimed the lives of six and injured many others.

Happier times were when the school went on school trips.

Elizabeth recalled: “Another great occasion, well two actually, were the trips to Cleethorpes, the first in 1972 by coach and the second by train in 1973.

“This second one was accompanied by a journalist from The Star, who wrote a whole page article on the outing. There is a wonderful photo of the whole school on the train station.

“Some of the children didn't really go far and the seaside trips were probably the first time some of them had been to the seaside.”

The newspaper clipping referred to funds being raised for the trip by jumble sales, and the children were allowed a maximum of 20p spending money.

The school and the church had the same name and were both built by John Brown, an industrialist, inventor and philanthropist from the Victorian era.

“We had quite a close association with the church because it was part of the school.

“All Saints Church was such a landmark on the hill it could be seen from miles and miles around.

“The vicar was a lovely man called Mr Godding, which I always thought was the most appropriate name for a vicar!

“I remember watching with horror on the television news, the demolition of the church in 1977.

“It was such a landmark, towering above that part of Sheffield.”

Elizabeth Berkby
Elizabeth Berkly
All Saints site 2022