Take a walk down memory lane and see what has been happening at the Buick for over 100 years!

If you have any pictures or stories about your time at the Buick please feel free to contact us and send in a picture or write us an email with some of your memories.

A memory from the 1950’s

Recollections of my time spent at the Buick in the Fifties

The Buick which I started to attend in 1953 or 1954 was, of course, only a fraction of the size of a school building which it is today.

My memory is perhaps not as good as it should be, but I recall the front of the school being pretty much the same. However behind this there have been many changes. There used to be two wings, one of them single storey and the other with an upstairs. In all I think there were eight classrooms. There was quite an area of playground all around the school. This contained the toilet blocks, outside, and not particularly salubrious – plumbing was not so good in those days!

Beyond the back playground was an area of grass with a thick laurel hedge marking the boundary. There was no back exit to Pottinger Street as there is today, so all comings and goings had to be via the front gates. During my time at the Buick the headmaster was Captain McIvor, and the Vice Principal was Mr. Watt, although I think the latter became the Principal before I left school in 1960. The caretaker was John McAleese.

I can remember that one of the neighbours took me to school on the bar of his bike in my early days there, as we lived in the country and there was no car at home.

My first teacher was Mrs. McSpadden and her class was held in the Cuningham Church Lecture Hall. I don’t remember spending a long time there, and I then moved into the school building to a classroom at the front left hand side of the school, as you look at it. My teacher was Miss Campbell, a new young teacher who wore high heels and dresses whose skirts sat out, because of the underskirts worn underneath – typical of the Fifties.

My next teacher was Miss McCracken. Her room was at the bottom of the single storey block. She had a little cane which I once felt on my legs for misbehaving. For some inexplicable reason I started to stamp my feet when Miss had gone out of the room, telling us all that she wanted “to be able to hear a pin drop.”

I think my next year was spent next door in Mrs Megaw’s room. I can well remember the competitive system she used to encourage us. On her blackboard cover she had a sort of ladder of lines, and each pupil had a little flag. Whoever got first in spellings, tables, homework, etc. would move up a rung, and the top pupil at the end of the week had the right to wear a Head Girl or Head Boy badge for the next week.

The next year I moved next door into Mrs. Cooper’s room and she trained a group of us (probably girls) to perform an action song at Ballymena Feis. At some point, probably during one of these earlier school years, I can remember being rushed to the school’s back door to see what must have been a solar eclipse, and also I remember a senior pupil coming round the classrooms to inform everyone that the school leaving age had been raised to fifteen!

Our class next progressed to the other side of the school to Miss Rogers’ classroom. She was another younger teacher and the next year we moved next door to Mr. McNeice’s room. He was talented at Art and this must have been P7 for it was that year that we sat our 11+ exam.

In those days this consisted of two Intelligence tests and an English and a Maths test. I don’t remember any pressure being put on me at home – nobody in the family had gone to grammar school, and I’m sure I wasn’t expected to be any different. It was quite a surprise therefore when the letter arrived to tell me that I had got a place in Ballymena Academy.

Leaving the Buick brought mixed emotions as I was excited about starting on a new adventure, but sad to be leaving friends who were going to Cambridge House and others, who would be moving upstairs to complete their education with Miss Hall and Mr. Watt. There was no Cullybackey High School as yet to move on to.

Some other points

There was no school uniform for everyday wear but the brown and yellow colours were already in existence for official occasions. The timetable was not as varied as today. Most of the school day was spent on English grammar exercises, spelling, reading and story writing and Arithmetic both Mental exercises and Problem solving.

There was no Science, maybe a bit of Nature Study, and I don’t remember doing much History, Geography or PE. There was some Art, Singing and Needlework for the girls—–I can’t remember what the boys did instead!

There was no canteen so a lunch had to be brought, and we all remember the little bottles of milk which we got every morning for Break, often set on the pipes to get warmed. School was much more disciplined and the cane was a deterrent to most pupils.

There were no school reports or parents’ evenings but parents would be contacted if necessary!

Memories of those early days are generally pleasant for me, but we are inclined to look at the past through rose-tinted glasses. I certainly feel that I got a good general education at the Buick and this has stood me in good stead throughout my life.

It’s great to see that the school has gone from strength to strength, and I would like to wish it Best Wishes for the future.

Isabel Halliday (nee Crabbe)

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