Bryan Ferry was born into the Washington mining community on September 26th 1945, a new baby brother for sister Ann. The men of Washington did not relish working down the pit but the vast majority had little choice. It was either that or starve. Following the end of World War Two in 1945 there was a mood of optimism among the people of the town. Their children would have everything the future could offer them, and if it could be helped, their sons would not go down the pit. Growing up in Washington in the 1950's and 1960's was a Golden Age of optimism and previously undreamt of opportunity. I know, I was part of it.
Bryan Ferry in concert Adelaide South Australia 2001 Photo by Audrey Fletcher
Washington coalminers. Geordie Morton is on the left and Jas Carr Walmsley, my husband's grandfather, is on the right. Most of the pitmen in the Glebe / Brady Square part of Washington worked at the Glebe Pit. This is the pit where my dad, Joe Hall, was a Deputy. Bryan's dad also worked here. Cook's Hall, which was about half a mile along the road from where Bryan lived in his school days. Bryan's dad worked here as a gardener.
The Glebe Pit
Bryan spent his toddler years in Model Dwellings, a row of spacious terraced flats opposite the Glebe School. Bryan, like the rest of us in the local area, went to the Glebe Infant and Junior School. Today it is called the John F. Kennedy School. His first teacher in the Infants was Miss Bell and his final teacher in Junior School was Miss Swaddle. It was Miss Swaddle who prepared us for the Grammar School and the chance of a life away from the pits. The pass rate for her students to go to Grammar School was extremely high. I would guess at well over 90%. Her teaching methods would be considered modern even by today's standards. Miss Swaddle was well ahead of her times and many of her students are indebted to her. (Photogapher of football team unknown.)
While at the Glebe Juniors, Bryan was in the school football team, which was coached by Mr. Morrow, one of the most popular teachers at the school. I knew seven of the team. Bryan was the goalie. Back left to right: Bobby Buchanan (Raeburn Avenue), Gordon Smith (Oliver Street), Bryan Ferry (Gainsborough Avenue), Arthur Short (Avon Street), Ray Cowanand Ken Woosey (Eden Terrace?).Front left to right: Billy Reay (Morland Ave), Alan Cutts (The Terraces), Peter Graham, Raymond Lumsdon (The Terraces) and Keith Nesbitt. Peter Graham went on from the Washington Grammar School to play for the Warwickshire County Cricket Club.
Glebe Junior School Football Team Bryan Ferry is Goalie
The Glebe School
In the years following WWII just about every child in Washington went to church or chapel. When he was a toddler Bryan attended the Methodist Chapel in Station Road and also the Mission Hall down Brady Square. Dora Richardson was his Sunday School Teacher at the Mission Hall. When the New Houses were built, Bryan's parents were offered a house in Gainsborough Avenue. These were lovely houses with all the mod cons. The Terraces is directly across the road from Gainsborough Avenue. I lived in number 15. Bryan's Grandma, Mrs. Meynell, lived next door in number 16. My Aunty Mary (Hullyer) was bridesmaid at the wedding of Bryan’s mam and dad.
The Mission Hall ... Cook's Chapel
Bryan attended the Washington Grammar School, where he gained his A-levels. His acceptance into Newcastle University to study Art was his passport away from life down the pit. However even at Grammar School, we were never far from our cultural heritage. There was a lovely view of the pit heap from the classroom windows! While at Grammar School, Bryan had a job as a paper lad. He was employed at Anderson's Shop, down Brady Square, to deliver newspapers and comics. My husband, Edwin, also worked there as a paper lad.
Bryan had a flair for showmanship. Here he is captured in his role as Malvolio in the Washington Grammar School Christmas Play "Twelfth Night". Gordon Johnston, who sometimes operated the lighting for the stage production, emailed me to say that the photos of the play were taken by Joe Dodd the Metalwork teacher, who also built the set and arranged the lighting. Many thanks Gordon.
Washington Old Hall
The Village Smithy
Washington Grammar School
The Pit Heap
Anderson's Paper Shop
Bryan Ferry as Malvolio in the school play "Twelfth Night"
(Recent photographs by Audrey Fletcher. Photographs of miners and Cooks Hall courtesy of Edwin Fletcher. Also there are four postcards of old Washington, photographer unknown.)
The Village Green
When Bryan was at Newcastle University he began singing first with the rock group, The Banshees, and later with The Gas Board. To find out how Bryan Ferry spent some of his recreational time while a student at Newcastle University CLICK HERE. Finally in 1970 the world renowned Roxy Music was formed by Bryan Ferry and Graham Simpson. Bryan's parents were behind him all the way, giving him every encouragement in any way they could. Today Bryan Ferry is a world wide phenomenon and Washington is proud to call him one of her own.
Every day on his way to school, Bryan passed the Washington Old Hall. This is the ancestral home of George Washington, the First President of the United States. He then passed the Village Smithy which dates back to at least the 1500's. Finally he passed the Village Green, where President Carter planted a tree (which subsequently died and it had to be replaced). The Green was originally the Village Pond.