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Posts from the ‘Renovation’ Category

Volunteer Profile: Alistair Nixon

We asked volunteer Alistair Nixon to write a few words about his experience helping at the school.

Volunteer Alistair Nixon

Volunteer Alistair Nixon

Here’s what he told us…

“I’ve now volunteered at the Saltburn School on a few occasions, helping out in the run up the Saltburn Arts Fair at the beginning of August, when the building officially opened.

I was excited when I first heard about the possible transfer of the school to the community, and relieved when I heard that it had been approved.

I’d been a pupil at the school in the early 1990s, when it was Saltburn Primary School, and I have fond memories of it. After all, a primary school is not like a secondary school, which (from my memories at least) is all more or less awkwardness and exams.

To be honest, I’d been itching to go back in there and look around since the day I left. Walking into the school for the first time again, however, it was hard to think it had ever been a functioning school in the first place. The years had not been kind: some electrics were exposed, dust covered most of the floors (which were missing more than a few floorboards), the paint on the walls was cracked and brown with damp and great rectangles on the walls, remaining from where board displays had been torn away, exposed plaster not seen for decades. Some rooms had been vandalised during a break in a few years ago. Debris and artifacts from years gone by cluttered most of the rooms.

My contribution has been abysmally marginal compared to those who have toiled through the days into the evenings to get the building up to scratch. (That work continues, even now.)

I’ve been involved in various tasks, which, running things off the top of my head, has included: painting walls, stripping walls, repainting walls, pulling nails out of floors, moving cupboards, sweeping floors, scraping and then soaping away industrial glue from floors, mopping floors, drying floors (sacrificing a few bath towels in the process) and finally making the odd cup of tea.

The hardest task of all, however, has been trying to remain focused enough not to go wandering off through the old corridors, exploring the empty classrooms, and reminiscing and reflecting on my own memories of the school.
The first time I went up to help out, while I was off ‘exploring’ I was introduced to another former pupil, who was doing precisely the same. She was the grandmother of one of the volunteers helping out. Generations separated us, but it turns out we had both shared the same classroom. We all know the school building, but it’s moments like that you realise just how many of us, spanning generations, that “we” consists of, and how significant a part of Saltburn that this building indeed is.

A school is there to give us the space to grow, expand our horizons, explore new ideas, make a bit more sense of the world around us and the things that we can do in it. The great promise of The Saltburn School is enabling that tradition to continue. It’s so neat you sort of wonder how the school building could ever have become something else.

A great deal more work still needs to be done. I’d recommend to anyone to take a visit and help out. That might be by painting walls and mopping floors. Or it could simply be by wandering off through the classrooms, reminiscing about the school’s past and – more importantly – reflecting upon the possibilities for its future. After all, the Saltburn School is a space in the hands of the community, and if that future is to be shaped by anyone, it’s us.”

Third Community Action Weekend

Joel scrubbing the cafe floor

Joel’s doing a really great job scrubbing that floor!

Thanks to everyone who took part in the third Community Action Weekend on July 28 and 29. We had over 20 adult volunteers (and countless children) give up a large portion of their weekend to help us out.

Jobs done included painting the exhibition spaces, scrubbing the wooden floors of the the ghastly glue, sanding the walls, and of course sweeping the floors and cleaning.

Thank you to all volunteers that helped out, too many to name everyone, which include Caed Parker, Bob Mitchell, Becky Mitchell, Carl Mole, Simon Palmer, Alistair Nixon, Lizzie Brown, Benjamin Woodrow.

Special shout out goes to student Joel, who scrubbed the cafe floor the whole day, not an easy job!


Artefacts Found Behind the Radiator

The found artifacts

Volunteers Peter Neal, Tammy Guy-Jobson and Rachael Ward stumbled across an assortment of old school memorabilia today When they were scraping some paint work in the main hall. The artifacts were hidden behind the original radiator outside the headmistress’s office and where she stood at the front of the hall.

The items included an unopened letter to the headmistress; a medical record for Kathleen Hobson dating back to 1927; musical certificates; a book of Fellowship songs; an algebra exercise book; a bus pass from the 1960s and other items.

Woodland Trust Jubilee Hedge Application


As part of our designs for the outside of the school we are intending to construct a sculpture park with at least three sculpture points along the top of the bank between the school and the old caretakers cottage.

To frame this sculpture park we would like to replace the existing galvanised metal fencing with a hedge from the Jubilee Woods programme being run by the Woodland Trust in honour of Her Majesty’s 60th Jubilee.

We have submitted our application for the maximum amount of hedging available, which should allow us to replace all of the fencing on the Marske Road-Windsor Road side of the school.

If anyone would like to buy us some additional trees for the site then they can do so here.

We’ll hear about the success or failure of our grant application in September and if successful we’ll get the trees to plant by the 5th November.

If we’re successful we’d like 420 people each to plan a tree in another of our community action weekends.

Our thanks to volunteer Elisa Duffew and the Friends of the Valley for their help in this bid.


We’ve been successful! Read more about what happens next here.

What We Found In The Old Oil Store

Emily Hesse and Mark Parham

Emily Hesse and Mark Parham peer into the Store

Today we opened up the old oil store in the grounds of the building and found a treasure trove of stuff.

Here’s what we found: 10 sinks and their attachments; what we think is a letter-sorter*; a coal bucket (with coal still in it!); a give way sign and a stop children sign, two doors, odd bits and bobs of wood.

It felt like an episode of Supermarket Sweep when Emily Hesse, artist in residence, got out her trolley to cart the materials out of the store.

Supermarket Sweep!

Supermarket Sweep!

She is collecting items found in the building to make artwork with.

It was all hands on deck for volunteers Mark Parham, Emily Hesse, Tammy Guy-Jobson, Margaret Guy-Jobson, Peter Neal and Graham Neal to cart the rest of the stuff into the building.

How Many People?

Only a foot?!

James Beighton, Janice Crombie, Bob Mitchell, Caed Parker and Emily Hesse

Yup it takes this many people to move a hygienic safety floor covering a foot. Goodness knows what they stuck it down with but it was stuck pretty well.


How to remove a hygienic safety flooring from a boarded floor.

Caed and Bob Take the Wall Off

Bob and Plaster

That’s a lot of plaster Mr Mitchell!

Volunteers Caed Parker and Bob Mitchell took off two thirds of the plaster from one of the walls in the new film and photography studio today. Why I hear you ask?

The long answer is the plaster was pervasively compromised by damp and couldn’t be saved, the question was where to stop, which after they’d started was aligned with the top part of the sash windows; the short answer is that boys like things like hacking off plaster and were curious to see what it looked like underneath.

Fortunately after a couple of hours it looked like they’d made the right call and the wall was set to present an interesting backdrop to lots of photoshoots to follow. The next step will be to wire brush all of the brickwork and then give it a coat of pva glue to seal the wall and stop dust ingress.


Murray v The Saltburn School

Andy Murray

Andy Murray may have dashed our hopes of a Brit winning Wimbledon this weekend, but the generous British spirit won outright at The Saltburn School. Several members of the community came out to help us for the second Community Action Weekend.

On Saturday the school was buzzing with activity – several rooms, which will be used as exhibition space for the arts fair next month, were given some tlc by volunteers.

Margaret, Maureen and Lily

Margaret, Maureen and Lily

The first two volunteers to come through the door were Maureen Lynas, from Saltburn, and Margaret Guy-Jobson from Stokesley. They spent a good few hours scraping the old blue paint off the walls of one of the rooms, ready for a new lick of paint. They were helped by eight-year-old Lily Hesse, from Saltburn.

Across the hall James Beighton and Emily Hesse did their best to scrub the glue off the floor of the new drama rehearsal space.

Emily Hesse and James Beighton

Emily Hesse and James Beighton

At midday Stuart Boulton, a photographer from The Northern Echo, came in to take a few shots for an article about The Saltburn School.

Later in the day Daz and Lynne Naylor, a couple from Saltburn, came in to help. Lynne helped scrape the walls and Daz filled in the holes in the hallway walls with plaster.

Meanwhile Wendy Walker and Paul Clews, who own Peeling Paint, a hand painted furniture business, were hard at work in their new residency space in of the building’s wings. They are currently repainting some old cabinets that were found in one of the former classrooms. The cabinets, which will be painted grey and blue, will be used in the new cafe. The cabinets will be ‘distressed’ so that bits of the original red colour can be seen peeping through, harking back to the past.

Cabinets being prepared by Peeling Paint.

Cabinets being prepared by Peeling Paint.

On Sunday we had the help of the probation team, who lifted up the concrete paving slabs from the front left of the building, revealing the earth underneath. A community herb garden will be planted there in the coming months. The team also dug up weeds from the flowerbeds. Thanks boys!

A lot of work was done in the afternoon by various members of the public who came in for the odd hour here and there. Cleaning, sweeping, sanding – many jobs!

Shane, Tilly and Max Wreford-Sinnott

Shane, Tilly and Max Wreford-Sinnott

Shane Wreford-Sinnott and his daughter Tilly Wreford-Sinnott, 8, and son Max Wreford-Sinnott, 13, did a grand job scrubbing the glue off the floor in the new drama rehearsal space in the afternoon, staying for a good few hours.

Thanks to everyone who helped out. Game, Set, Match.


Volunteer Profile: Rachael Ward

Rachael Ward

Rachel Ward helping to prepare the Community Meeting Room for use.

Rachael Ward, 27, resident of Saltburn, explained in her own words how she has found volunteering at The Saltburn School:

I have been volunteering at Salburn school for the past few weeks and have loved every minute of it…

I can’t say I have ever been a DIY girl but my new favourite job is finding nails poking out of floors and pulling them out. I can just completely zone out and I hope to have burnt a few calories in the process!

The next on my list of new DIY talents is ‘filling’, I’m not sure if this is the technical term, but in a nutshell I fill in holes in walls to make them good as new again, ready for a lick of paint and hey presto! I think I need to invest in a tool belt as my list of DIY-ing talents at this rate is going to be endless.

I’m really looking forward to seeing more floors being varnished and more walls being painted and helping along the way… but above all else I’m looking forward to seeing the school being used to its full potential and being around for generations to come.

It’s really wonderful that the school is being restored and not just being knocked down to build some soulless development. The stories and the memories of the past can be added to and not just dusted under the carpet (although there’s not much chance of that if i’m around with the hoover!).

Follow Rachel as she volunteers at the school by clicking here.

New Town Archive Nearly Ready

Shiny Brass Knobs

Graham Bowen, who is a trained museum curator, was restoring some Edwardian brass door handles, plates and what he tells me are ‘escutchions’ (the bit where the key goes in the door) today.

The difference between the uncleaned brass and the restored is amazing. Very shiny indeed. He is using a technique called ‘restorvation’ which is a cross between restoration and conservation.

In his 18 year career Graham has worked for organisations like the National Trust, which use a different method he tells me.

A lot of the work for the National Trust is about conserving the objects as they tell a story, rather than restoring them.

This is a functional space, and all the rooms are going to be used in a practical manner. So we are restoring them their original state.

Hence, shiny knobs instead of dirty, but conserved ones.

Over the past few days he and several other volunteers including Sara Henry and Ted Jeffries have been getting all the junk out of what will be the new town archive set inthe old headteacher’s room and painting it a lovely deep cornfield yellow.

Volunteer Sara Henry

Volunteer Sara Henry taking a pause in painting a wonderful cornflower yellow.

“I got the idea for the colour from an interior of a Scottish castle. I thought it would be ideal for this room.”

Graham will be helping to get the documentation together for accredited museum status in the long term.