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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bash Street's School

BASH STREET'S SCHOOL
by Jeremy Briggs

The Bash Street Kids are some of the best known and beloved Beano characters. Their first appearance was in the issue of the comic dated 13 February 1954 when their strip was initially called 'When The Bell Rings' and was drawn by their artistic creator Leo Baxendale. Their popularity continues today, almost sixty years later, with their adventures now being drawn by David Sutherland.

It is said that the then Beano editor George Moonie got the original idea of the Bash Street Kids from the children in the school playground that he could see and hear from the window of the Beano's office in Dundee. In the Bash Street Kids section of  the History Of The Beano, published jointly by DC Thomson and Waverley Books in 2008, the book states that George Moonie “was able to draw never-ending inspiration from the view outside his office window. The view of the pupils cavorting in the neighbouring High School Of Dundee playground was invaluable to this extremely talented Editor and script writer.”

The High School of Dundee is still there today right beside DC Thomson's Courier Building headquarters in Dundee’s Albert Square and is a private school that takes pupils of both primary and secondary age. The imposing school building was opened on 1 October 1834 although the school can trace its roots back as far as a charter issued by the Bishop of Brechin in the 1220s to begin schooling in the local area, a charter that was confirmed by a Papal Bull from Pope Gregory IX dated 14 February 1239. Recent former pupils of the school include BBC journalist and broadcaster Andrew Marr, author A. L. Kennedy and the singer-songwriter KT Tunstall.

In comparison to the age of the grey High School building, the reddish brown Courier Building, named for DC Thomson's Dundee Courier newspaper and just across the road from the school, is a mere youngster dating from 1902 with its tower at the rear being a 1960s add on.

On a recent visit to the Courier Building I had the opportunity to experience the noise and commotion of the playground that inspired the Bash Street Kids all those years ago. As the school lunchtime started and the children left their classes and headed into the playground, the noise started, crossed the road, rose up the building and made its presence felt even through the closed windows.

Thomson's staff are so used to it that they don't really notice it anymore but it made me look out of the window at the playground and for me in that moment a piece of the Beano's history came to life.

(With thanks to DC Thomson Archivist Morris Heggie, who was a little bemused that I wanted to take a photograph of his office window.)

2 comments:

Mike W said...

A most interesting article - nostalgia isn't what it used to be!(Bash Street joke?)

Peter Gray said...

Lovely sound children playing in a playground...full of joy..fun..

nice photos and look forward to more insights from your visit..

its one of the things I've often dreamed of doing..hopefully I will do it one day..I live in Guildford Surrey so will have to link it to a holiday in Scotland..