The family with 110 years’ history at Dame Allan’s Schools

IT HAS BEEN almost 110 years since Harold Clark first walked through the doors of Dame Allan’s Boys' School in a pre-war era when fees were in pounds and shillings, and pupil numbers hovered around 280.

Little did he know back then, as a boy of just 12 years old, that his journey through the school - which in his day was situated on Newcastle’s College Street - would lead the way for future generations of Clark who have followed in his footsteps.

In fact, when Harold’s great-granddaughter Annabelle Clark started at the Girl’s School in 2019, she represented the fourth generation of Clark to attend our prestigious Schools and further strengthened the historical ties between the family and Dame Allan’s.

Her father Julian Clark, from Gosforth, Newcastle, said it was a “natural decision” to choose the same school for Annabelle that he himself had attended in 1977 – 1984, as well as his late father Rodney Clark in 1947-1953 and late grandfather Harold in 1912 – 1918. In September, Julian’s twin sons Monty and Seb will also join the Boys’ School in Year 9.

“Dame Allan’s has played such a central part in all our childhoods – and while each of our individual experiences at the Schools were quite different, we have all shared a common sense of gratitude and appreciation for the well-rounded education that was afforded to us,” said Julian, who went on to study law and now practises in Newcastle.

Indeed, much has changed over the past 110 years. In the year Harold joined Dame Allan’s, growing tension in Europe had paved the way for the creation of a cadet corps for the boys – one of the first cadet corps in the North-East – and Harold enjoyed his involvement in the group.

He was schooled during the WW1 years and, according to Julian, was “bitterly disappointed” not to have fought in the Great War having turned 18 not long after the peace deal was signed. He went on to study at Newcastle University and became a bank manager for Lloyds.

Harold’s son Rodney was born in 1935, the same year that Dame Allan’s relocated from the city centre to its current site on Fowberry Crescent, in Fenham. He joined the Boys’ School when he was 12, two years after the end of the Second World War, and left in 1953, the year of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.

Like his father before him, Rodney was also an active member of the cadets. After school he went to Durham University, before completing National Service in Malaysia. He went on to be a chartered mechanical engineer, finishing his career at Rolls Royce.

Julian, 56, said: “When I joined the school in 1977 there were still quite a number of teachers there who had taught my father. There was Don Walker (geography), Frank Curran (Latin), Geordie Bulmer (maths) and Bill Moses (sport).

“I believe the last remaining teacher at the school to teach me was James Procter, who retired in 2014, and before that probably Bill Lomas, who retired in 2010.

“There was one teacher who truly inspired me academically, and made me realise my potential, and that was Reverend Cecil Dick, the religious studies teacher. For that I am very grateful.”

Julian’s daughter Annabelle hopes to forge a career in medicine and, together with her brothers, will journey through the Schools at a time when millions of pounds are being invested to transform the North End of Dame Allan’s senior site and create state-of-the-art science labs.

Julian added: “When we looked around schools for Annabelle, she liked Dame Allan’s the best. It is generally considered to be a more balanced school, where students have good attitudes, and I supported her decision. I was confident she would do well here – and she is. The boys are looking forward to joining in September.”

Principal Will Scott said: “Dame Allan’s has long felt proud of its family ethos, generated by a dedicated team of caring and experienced teachers and staff who encourage students to flourish. The Clark family’s history with the Schools is a lovely reminder of the importance of maintaining and upholding the strong values that have been present here for hundreds of years.

“Annabelle joined the school just one year before I was appointed as Principal. Unlike myself, she is fortunate to know the tales and the triumphs from bygone days thanks to her father, grandfather and great-grandfather who walked the school corridors before her.”


Photo: Harold Clark (centre) was a school cadet - pictured in 1913