Dalesmen's amazing reunion at school 85 years later

Charles Robinson (92), Joseph Wray (93) and George Lumley (95) reminisce at Hartwith School near Brimham Rocks (1606074AM3)
Charles Robinson (92), Joseph Wray (93) and George Lumley (95) reminisce at Hartwith School near Brimham Rocks (1606074AM3)

A remarkable reunion has taken place of three old Dales school pals after an incredible gap of 85 years.

The three strong-spirited veterans, now all in their nineties, visited their old primary school at Brimham together for the first time since the 1920s.

Charles Robinson, 92; George Lumley, 95; and Joseph Wray, 93, were reunited at Hartwith School at Brimham where they were first taught as youngsters eight decades ago.

The occasion brought back vivid memories of those far-off days in the inter-war era.

George Lumley, who was born near Brimham, said: “It was like going home in a way. It was the same old school. In those days it didn’t matter of you did or didn’t enjoy school. It was just a matter of going.

“When you look back there were only good days then.”

Charles Robinson, who lived then in Hartwith, said his most vivid memory of being a young pupil in the 1920s was of seeing an oldfashioned airship.

He said: “I can remember looking out the classroom window towards Harrogate and seeing this giant R100 airship going by. It just happened to be passing. It wasn’t something you saw every day.”

Both friends went on to become farmers in the days when horses not machinery dominated the Nidderdale landscape before retiring.

George spent many happy years in mixed farming in Marton cum Grafton in terms of arable, dairy and sheep while Charles did the same at Bishopthorpe.

Ironically, in his later years, Charles bought a disused airfield where famous names in horse racing such as Lester Piggot and Willie Carson would often arrive by plane.The three Dales friends may be a lot older these days but they all agree they have not changed much over the years.

George said: “As far as I know, we’re the last three from the class still alive. We have kept in touch a bit but haven’t been back to Hartwith School since the 1920s.

“Charles is the same as he has been for years. It was good to see the old faces.”

They also agreed that their old school, a Grade II listed building which is located between Summerbridge and Brimham Rocks, looked a lot smaller 80-odd years on.

Charles, who now lives in a bungalow in York with this grandson since his wife passed away five years ago, said: “The school building hadn’t changed much but it seemed a bit smaller.

“We were all in one room and there was only one teacher, Mrs Alexander who lived in the school house between the school and the church. She did everything.”

Hartwith School has been a meeting room for most of the time since the three friends were there in short trousers.

How times have changed.

George, who still lives on his own, though his house is in Great Ouseburn these days, said: “To be honest I didn’t do a lot of good at school until I went to Birstwith when I was ten.

“The school there had two classes divided between infants and older pupils. That’s where I learnt.”

Charles said: “I remember the classroom and the porch. It hadn’t altered really.

“One teacher had to teach we pupils who were aged from five to 14.

“Hartwith School closed when I was ten and we had to go to school in Summerbridge.

“It was much bigger with four classrooms but we had to walk all the way to school until they got buses eventually.”