Saturday 25 September 2010

Ushaw College Photo Essay Number Six (posted 20/05/2010)

These are photos of the Junior House, or the Junior Seminary, or just the Sem.  I was not able to take a photo from directly in front of the Sem, as I will explain later.  So you will have to use your imagination - the Sem is built like the letter 'L' with an extra horizontal at the top of the 'L'.  On the left of the right photo is St Aloysius' chapel, and you can just see the end buttress on the right of the left photo - the main building has two wings.Ushaw Junior HouseUshaw St Aloysius 

In the centre of the main building we have the front door, which leads on to the main corridor.  On the right hand side of the front door was the room occupied by the Junior House Prefect of Discipline; in my time this was Mr David 'Darty' Bullen (Remember, the priests were all addressed as 'Mister' not 'Father').  On the left hand side, there was a Playroom (Common Room). The top storey was one long dormitory; each boy had a small cubicle, all made with wood partitions and the doorway was a curtain.  At either end there was a special cubicle for the Minors who looked after each year group: the Minors were chosen Divines in Minor Orders - hence Minors for short.  Their job here was to make sure everybody got to bed at night and got up in the morning (9 pm and 6.45 am respectively, I think).
On the left hand wing, the ground floor housed Playrooms and, at the end,the Junior House Study Place (stewpot).  The upper floor on this wing had the rooms for the professors who normally taught in the Sem.
On the right hand wing, the ground floor held classrooms and, at the end, the lovely chapel of St Aloysius (which you can see on the right photo).  The upper storey on this wing was a continuation of the dormitory which stretched above the main corridor. In the right photo, behind the tree, you can see what is a corridor which led to the College, which we youngsters marched along two-by-two to go to the Refectory for meals four times a day or to the St Cuthbert's chapel on Sundays for High Mass and Vespers.
Behind that corridor was the Gymnasium (knees bend, arms stretch, hup, two, three, four).  The skylight of the Swimming Baths is just visible above the corridor.  More about the Swimming Baths on another occasion.
The reason why I was not able to photograph the Junior Sem from the front is that the place is in grave danger of falling down.  The whole area is barricaded off, so that the nearest approach is what you can see in the photo on the left.  A College servant told me that the place has been vandalised- copper wire stripped out, wash basins and toilets smashed, etc.  No-one is allowed to visit for fear that something nasty and heavy might fall on them.  Many years ago the Junior Sem was closed when the numbers dropped and Upholland College in Lancashire took on the role of Junior Seminary for the Northern Dioceses.  Since then Ushaw's Junior Sem has had a chequered career, with nothing much happening, because various authorities - the Bishops, English Heritage, County Durham Planning Department - cannot agree on what to do with the place. The result - dereliction!  I would have loved photos of St Aloysius, the dormitories, the main ambulacrum, even the wash-place, but the chance is long gone.
Nor is this the only area which has suffered harm over recent years.  More to come!

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