Friday 24 September 2010

Ushaw College Photo Essay Number One (posted 30/04/2010)

I recently took a number of photographs of Ushaw College with the intention of writing a photo-essay: simply photos with a few words of explanation.  But, as I looked at the photos, so many memories came back to me that I think that this could last for some time!

The first photo is this one.  It is of course the front of Ushaw College with St Cuthbert's Chapel at the far end.  Clearly there are four levels of galleries with rooms on each side of the central passageway.  The height is about sixty feet to the roof.
Beginning at the main door, at the centre of the ground floor, the window to the right of the door was the office of Ted Stone, one of the College servants.  Dear old Ted Stone!  He was the most visible perhaps of all the College servants.  I think I may have to digress here!
The two other College servants that I knew best, even though we were not supposed to fraternise with College servants, were Peter Seed (Clerk of Works) and Vincent Rangham (College Secretary and Financial  Wizard).  These College servants were loyal and long-serving members of the Ushaw Team - their sons and grandsons are still working at the College.
But back to Ted Stone.  He was rather small and slight, with a moustache.  His first job was porter and door-keeper.  All visitors to the College reported to him as they entered the main door, and he would then take them to meet whoever they had come to see. Or later after a phone system was introduced into the College he would use the intercom-phone to announce the arrival of the visitor. 
That was only a part of Ted's duties.  He was often drafted in to be a real porter - hefting buckets of coal to the rooms of the professors who all had coal-fires.  At that time there were no lifts (elevators), which meant carrying  coals up three flights of stairs.  Hard work indeed!
His other principal duty was Postmaster - he ran the College Post Office. He received the incoming letters and parcels, sorted them and distributed them; he emptied the post-box on the Front Ambulacrum, weighed and priced outgoing parcels, sold stamps.  He was indeed Postmaster to the College.
At General Election time he was in charge of the ballot-box, which would go in the small waiting room to the left of the main door and he would check off the voters and issue voting papers; he would seal the ballot box at the end of voting and make sure that it was collected by van to go to the Count.
When he had nothing else to do, he would become a barber, cutting student's hair.  It wasn't quite a Marine-style of cut, but almost that.  After having been shorn, the remark often made was "I feel a Stone lighter!" - a remark that Ted must have been heartily sick of hearing.  His haircuts were also the origin of the phrase "I'm going to have a Stone", or "I've been Stoned".  (Fifty or sixty years ago we couldn't have imagined any other meaning for these words than that they referred to a haircut by Ted Stone).  He didn't receive any pay from the students, but later when we were officially allowed to smoke I for one often laid a couple of cigarettes on his counter as a thank you. (We all smoked like chimneys in those days).
Enough already - I must get back to my photo of the front of the College.  Next time!
If anyone has any other recollections of Ted Stone, please let us know by adding a Comment.

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