The Old School Yard

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Tuesday 25th January 2000

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Xanthoria lichen roof-top lichensTHE WILD SIDE of the dentist's waiting room doesn't look promising; a narrow view through vertical blinds of a brick wall. Above it; the apex of a lichen-blotched asbestos roof and, beyond that, in contrast, a flagstone roof, the traditional local material, which might be as much as two hundred years old. Old photographs show a farm here on Horbury high street. The farmhouse is now a dress shop.

starling Three Starlings fly in and perch on the asbestos roof for a few moments, and that's about it for wildlife.

St Peter's School The original village school, St Peter's, stood on what is now the dentist's car park. It was Victorian, stone-built with plenty of tall mullioned windows, most of them set too high for children be able to see much more than the sky. As a pupil there I remember once, when it started snowing heavily, we were allowed to stand on our chairs for a few minutes to enjoy the spectacle.

climbing apparatus, c.1960 A climbing frame stood in the corner of the playground which we got to use once a week during the lunchtime break. I'd climb to the highest rail and look out over the roofs of the high street, across the valley, to what seemed a remote wooded ridge, Woolley Edge, three miles to the south. I could just make out a van travelling along the tree-lined lane along the crest of the ridge, windscreen glinting in the sun. It seemed to be in a different world.

I decided that, when I grew up, I'd like a job which involved driving a van, so that I'd be able to visit such places in the course of the day, instead of being stuck indoors.



As we walk into the wood the first two birds we see are a Treecreeper and a Goldcrest in the trees by the stream. These are both birds that we can go two or three months without seeing, so to come across them together like this is a bonus.

Around Old Horbury

Drawing of old St Peter's School from my booklet Around Old Horbury, a guide to some of the historic streets and buildings of Horbury, 18 pen and ink illustrations, historical notes, time line, town trail and plan. Willow Island Editions, £2.95 (ISBN 1 902467 00 0).

Richard Bell
Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

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