To the manor born?
Life on the Inside portrait of life at Barnardo's Shotley Park; stately home turned children's home.

Shotley Park.

SHOTLEY Park, County Durham, was an English stately home. It covered about 40 acres, had a wood with a stream running through
the middle, a farm and a driveway about 100 yards long and 50 yards wide with a green lawn in the middle. But the front entrance was
out of bounds to the children who lived there. I only went through it once in all of the seven years that I was at Shotley Park, and that
was when I first arrived. The back entrance, once for traders and servants, was our entrance.
Other than the driveway, there was another entrance to Shotley Park, a thin pathway along the side of the woods which led onto a
wooden bridge across a stream then through a grassy open space onto the top public road into Shotley Bridge. This was my play area.
The driveway on the hill at the back of the home was where we used to ride bicycles with no tyres or brakes and four-wheeled wooden
'bogeys' that we made ourselves. Another area at the back was divided into individual plots where we could grow what we liked. In the
woods we played catch, cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers. We used the enormous farmer's field at the back for athletics in
Summer and sledged there in winter.
When it started to snow, Shotley Park could be beautiful and majestic. I could sit in the ballroom for hours watching the snowflakes
float down.
Shotley Park became a mixed home of around 20 boys and 10 girls shortly after I first arrived. The dormitories were split into two, but
this was the only time we were separated. We played, ate, went to school and fought for each other, and against each other. We were all
equals. The school that we all went to was at a village called Leadgate. We described this as an 'outside' school, which meant outside.
of our grounds. I was put into the infants and found this school to be a horrible place. The people there were the most cruel, unkind and
uncaring people I was ever to know. From day one the other children at this school, who were for us the 'outsiders', thought we were
freaks. 'Banana kids' they called us.
We never seemed to get enough to eat at Shotley Park in the early years I was there. But there was a lot of ritual. Prayers had to be said
before we could start eating, there was no talking at table and woe betide any of us that dared to utter a word. And 'everything' had to be
eaten whether we liked it or not.
The food was usually horrible, mostly thick porridge and kippers with a couple of slices of bread and marmalade for breakfast. I always
left the breakfast table the same way as I came to it - hungry. Meals were always tasteless - boiled turnips, boiled onions, boiled butter
beans, boiled string peas, boiled macaroni. I hated these foods. I had to close my eyes and swallow and hope things would go down and
stay down - with one of the masters or matrons standing behind telling me about all the millions of people starving in the world. I'll
never forget it so long as I live.
In the evenings it was upstairs to bath and get our hair scrubbed with a scrubbing brush and carbolic soap. We slept in dormitories of
about six to eight children to a room with no talking or getting out of bed at nights, not even to go to the toilet. This was probably the
reason why so many of us wet the beds. In the morning we made our own beds and those that had wet the beds where publicly
humiliated. I used to try and get away with just making my bed whether it was wet or not.
There was an unwritten law among us Barnardo's kids, you never snitched on one another. If anyone got into trouble, he or she either
owned up or we all took our punishment together even if we had nothing to do with it. We might beat the offender up afterwards, but
we never snitched no matter what. The first time I was caned with a group of other boys I noticed that I was the only one crying. Later
one of the older boys who had also been punished told me never to cry again. He said, 'Never let them see that they have hurt you.' It
was then that I started to learn how to keep my emotions to myself no matter what happened. We had to be tough and seen to be tough.
Those of us who knew our parents expected them to come and take us away one day - at least I always did. I told my friend I didn't
know why my mother had
put me in Barnardo's. He then told me, that just before I arrived at Shotley Park, the headmaster had told them that a 'coloured' boy
was coming and that they all had to respect me and were not to call me any names. I asked 'what names'. He said names like 'blacky'
and such. He then told me that none of them had ever seen a coloured person before I arrived, and that he, and all the other children
expected me to have a bone in my nose, wear only a loin cloth and have a shield with a spear. Everyone thought I was coming from
Africa, not Liverpool. He asked me if I had any brothers or sisters, and when I told him that I had one of each, he asked why I was
sent to Barnardo's and not them. I'd always thought that I had done something wrong at home, so I told him this. He then asked me if
my brother and sister and parents were the same colour as me. I said no. 'Your parents are white, and your brother and sister are both
white?' he asked. 'Yes', I said. 'Then that's the reason you are in Barnardo's' he said. It was then that I realised that the person I had
always thought was my father, couldn't be.
I'd never given it much thought that I was coloured in those days. There was no reason to. I obviously knew that I was different and
quite liked it, but I saw this from the same point of view as the kid there with the buckteeth, or the guy with the withered leg
nicknamed Hop-along. We all had our little physical differences but that's the way it was and that was that. I personally never came
across any discrimination of any kind the whole time I was in the homes. And once I'd established myself as having a reputation as a
good fighter, I never had any problems at school anymore either.
All of us boys and girls had the same fantasy at Shotley Park - that one day a very nice rich couple would come and take us away.
These fantasy parents of ours would have a great big house on a hill, servants, a big car and we would be able to have everything
that we asked for. It was these dreams that kept our spirits up. We never gave up hoping that one day it would come true.
James Deane Shotley Park 1948-55


I went to Goldings from Shotley Park Durham, at Shotley; Goldings had a good reputation
as the school to go to, the idea was to learn a trade to give us a better start in life.† Before
me lots of guys had gone down to Goldings from Shotley Park and many more after.†
I didnít want to stay in Barnardo's until I was 21 so printing was out of the question, I
started as a shoemaker but shortly after changed my trade to become a carpenter, my
junior house was Kinnaird.†
I became a member of the school Gym team, that meant, getting out and visiting various
places in the London area giving gymnastic shows, mainly at garden fetes.† I was also in
the minor school football team when we won a cup final medal in the local knock out
competition in 1957.† Shortly before I left Goldings Mr Whitbread was trying to get me
into Tottenham Hotspurs youth team.† I was a Wimbledon ball boy in 1957 who was
chosen due to my multicultural background
(modern jargon, as against ďhalf castĒ in
the old jargon
) to be Althea Gibsonís ball boy on the centre court, at both the semi final,
against Christine Truman and the Final, against Darlene Hart.† This was a publicity stunt
for the school arranged by a couple of newspapers and the school housemaster in charge
at Wimbledon at that time.† As Althea Gibson was then the first black person to win
Wimbledon it would look good for the school to have me as her ball boy.† (
Have things
changed since those days).

I still have a Daily Express newspaper clipping of this, it would be interesting to know of
any of the other guys that were on centre court on those days are still around.† In 1957 I
became for a while a prefect my senior house Somerset.† During the last months that I was at Goldings I joined Skippers cadets, and,
probably because of my size, played the base drum in the band.†
I was 16 and a half at the time and senior boy at the school, as you and everyone else knows that was the age all tradesmen other than
the printers left Goldings.† I had been informed by ďPinheadĒ that I was next to leave and that arrangements were being made for work
and digs, it was also explained that due to my multicultural background it might take a bit longer than others for work and digs to be
found, which I fully understood.† My state of mind at the time was one of excitement and curiosity as the way I saw it, I was moving
into a new phase of my life which I considered to be an adventure into the unknown, a new world, a new life where I could be
completely independent from Barnardo's and decide for myself what I wanted to do and be.† In other words, I couldnít wait to leave.†
About a year before I left, a new type of housemaster was being phased into Goldings, they were totally different from the old
housemasters who were mainly ex military types.† These new Housemasters were the soft psychological mind probing types who were
not particularly popular with many of the older boys; they were given the name psychos? It was two of these types that were on duty
that night in the room.†
I was sitting at one of the tables that were situated next to the doors that led out to the parade ground at the front end of the dining
room; plonk was being served that night.† It was a normal evening everyone was just eating and conversing like any other night, when
all of a sudden there was an incident at the bottom half of the dining room.† Shortly after, there started the old protest theme at the
bottom end where a few of the guys started to bang their knives and forks that were clenched in their fists on the table, within seconds
this protest spread over the whole of the dining room and more than two hundred guys were banging on the tables which made an
enormous racket.† The two housemasters panicked, they were running up and down the dining room trying to stop the protest but
couldnít control it.† They then opened all the doors that led onto the parade ground and shouted that every one had to go out and line
up on parade but nobody moved.† Then strangely one of these housemasters came over to me and tried to drag me out, what his
reasoning for choosing me was unclear, maybe he thought if he can get the most senior guy out the rest will follow, or maybe he just
didnít like me as I was pretty popular at the school and he thought that I was a threat to his authority, who knows, it might even have
been a colour thing for him.† Well I wasnít moving, I reasoned that if anyone should be forced out then that should be the ones that
caused the incident in the first place, also as senior boy who was well known for not taking any nonsense I most certainly was not
going to let this jerk humiliate and ridicule me in front of the rest of the school, Iíd have never been able to live it down even though
I only had a short time to go.† Thus we had what is known as a standoff.†
He tried again to manhandle me out but I wasnít moving, the next thing I remember is that he is on the ground lying on his back with
a cut just under his left eye and my right hand knuckle is split open, I must have lashed out at him in blind anger and frustration.†
At that moment I can remember thinking, Iíve only got a few weeks to go and this jerk has gone and spoiled the whole 3 years that I
was at Goldings.† I thought nobody is going to believe my side of the story against this jerk that has done nothing other than provoke
the situation, so I dived on top of him and started to thump him, at least Iíd have that satisfaction if nothing else.† Then there was a
shout that Skipper was coming which in a way was a relief because I stopped.† If Skipper hadnít come at that time who knows what
Iíd have done to this housemaster.†
Skipper marched me off to Pinheads office once inside there was a bit of a flap as neither knew what to do, a situation like this had
never happened before.† To be fair neither Skipper nor Pinhead attached any blame, how could they, neither were there at the time,
they were more interested in a solution to the problem.† It was decided that I had to go to my dorm. and collect all my things
immediately.† I was then transferred to a small room high above on the left side of the building adjacent to the dining room where I
was locked inside for three days all on my own like a prisoner, the only time that the door was opened was when they brought me my
meals.† On the third day I had to collect all of my things, I was then taken to the carpenters shop and given an old carpenters toolbox
with old tools in it, which I had to sign for.† Then without being able to say goodbye to anyone I was transferred out and that was the
last I saw of Goldings.†
Now the next bit is strange, after leaving Goldings my next memory is working in a small grotty carpenters shop making bathroom
cabinets near Euston Station London, my job was to smear fish glue onto two bits of plywood and bang two small nails in them to
keep them together, my digs where not far from Notting Hill.† I canít remember how I got there, when I was given the job, or when I
first went to these digs.†
According to my records I was transferred from Goldings to Stepney Causeway on the 13 Oct 1958 where I stayed until 29 Oct 1958,
which is more than two weeks.† I have no recollection of how I got to Stepney, or the time I spent at Stepney, nor leaving Stepney,
which has now given me course for concern.† A few years ago at one of the Goldings reunions a couple of the guys who remembered
wanted to know exactly what happened at that time (
they were obviously very interested to find out what happened) when I mentioned
that according to my records I was transferred to Stepney and stayed there for more than two weeks but couldnít remember anything,
they suggested that I would have been given sedatives to keep me quiet.† Now if this is the case then Iíd like to know??? Because if I
can't remember then who knows what they did to me there.†
At a later reunion, I eventually after more than 40 years finally found out what really happened that night in the dining room, the guy
in question told me in person.† It had all started at the bottom end of the dining room, the guy where it all centred around happened to
be a junior ex Shotley Park boy (
talk about coincidence). One of the housemasters had said something to him, he said something back,
the housemaster gave him a bang around the back of the head and thatís how the whole thing started.† When the riot was all over there
was plonk all over the place, over the ceiling, the walls, everywhere, he and a couple of others at his table spent the next few days
scrapping it all up as punishment.† Like most things in life there is a simple explanation for everything.†
After three weeks of working at that job in Euston I found myself another job in the evening standard as a trainee television engineer
at Bush and Marconi in Edmonton North London, the pay was £2 -16 shillings and eleven pence a week which was the same as the
carpenters job, my rent was £3.† Barnardo's paid the rest and gave me 10 shillings pocket money; Barnardo's found me digs in
Tottenham so I transferred to Tottenham.† The old carpenters toolbox with the old tools in it that I received from Goldings, had to be
returned, as it was pointed out to me, this was still the property of Goldings, the aftercare guy who came to pick it up signed for it.†
The digs were terrible; there were 8 ex Barnardo's boys there, two to a room.† It was run by an fat ex policeman who walked about in
string vest all the time, his wife was even fatter, when she hung one pair of her knickers on the wash line, it was full, they were
After six months I went for the money, I got a job as a factory worker in a shoe factory of all places, earning £8 a week on piecework,
I never told the landlord that I had changed my job.† At the same time I found myself a bed-sitter where I shared the kitchen and
cooked for myself, rent £2 a week.† I sneaked out of digs one night leaving a false address before I left, it took Barnardo's six months
to find me even though I lived no more than a half a mile from my old digs.† I was only 17 and they were still my guardians whether I
liked it or not.† I was called into the factory office one day and this aftercare guy was there, he asked me how I was, I said great, he
said he would tell them at head office that I was O.K. and I never saw him or anyone else from Barnardo's again.† At last I was free
and totally independent.†
In 1961, I joined the R.A.F. for 5 years as an Instrument Technician, I served in Germany next to the Dutch border for 3 years, I also
did a stint in Malta.† In 1966 I was demobbed at Nottingham, the same day I emigrated to Holland to a town near the German Border.†
After a few bum jobs I got a job as a Technician repairing and servicing slot machines in bars and cafes.† In 1975 I left and started my
own business in slot machines in Holland.† In 1980 I sold the business, at that time I had 38 clients and a total of 83 machines, 29 one
armed bandits, 15 flipper games, 12 video games the rest were an assortment of football tables, billiard tables, juke boxes and other
miscellaneous machines.†
In 1981 I emigrated with my family to Barbados where we built a bungalow.† In 1983 we sold up and after visiting Trinidad and
Tobago settled in Curacao, a Dutch island just of the Venezuelan coast.† After a few months my wife was so homesick that we packed
up again and returned to Holland.† In Dec 1984 we emigrated to Torremolinos where we bought a small villa with swimming pool.†
We had two tourist shops for a time but got rid of those when the recession came in 1993.† I was also into selling and installing home
satellite systems to ex pats along the coast, later we sold the goods from our shops on the markets at Marbella and Torremolinos.† In
1991 Iíd had a private operation in Spain on my knee that was completely botched by the surgeon, after years of fighting for
compensation and lawyers expenses in Spain we gave it up and returned to the U.K. in Nov. 1995, mainly to get my leg fixed properly.†
My wife and I now work for the R.A.F. Association as dept. welfare officers for ex R.A.F. servicemen and women, a job that we both
enjoy doing.†
I received my records in 1998, and have been able to track down 72 relations on my Mothers side in Liverpool and Australia.†
Although it has been interesting to find them and believe me I like them all and they have all taken me in as part of the family I canít
say that I missed much.†† I have since been back to the part of Liverpool which I can still remember as a kid before I was put into
Barnardo's, but even today I canít say that being brought up in a slum area could have been much fun.† In the year 2000, My wife and
I visited my half brothers and sister in Australia after finding out that my mother had died in 1986†(
at our own expense I might add)
It turns out that my step father, which is their father, was just as vile, cruel, and insensitive to them as he was to me, so I didnít miss
anything there either.† I am still trying to find any of my real fathers family, to see if I missed anything there! If people ask me these
days what was it like being brought up in Barnardo's, I usually say that I was brought up in Stately Homes, where were you brought up?
†© James Deane (Dixie)† Goldings 1955 - 58

Page Compiled October 2007

All images and text copyright © to Goldings Old Boys reunion members

Jim Dixie Deane with his wife at 2007 Reunion

James on leaving Barnardos


James Dixie Deane