This is an archived website and is no longer updated. Click here to go to the home page
EWM Home Page | Aidan O'Rourke on Twitter and Facebook | Contact

Stuck on you

Head boy Ray lands old school railings, and ships them to US

THESE bent and rusty railings are on their way to America - to remind Ray O'Neill of the day he got his head stuck in them.

The expat Brit is paying to have them shipped from his old school in Manchester to his back garden in Oregon.

There he is planning to put them back up with a plaque reading: "this is where an idiot's head got stuck."

It was more than 50 years ago as a mischievous nine-year-old that Ray put his head through the railings of the playground of Temple Primary School in Cheetham - and got wedged.

He was stuck for 20 minutes until firemen freed him by bending the bars.

When he returned on a nostalgic trip to his home town, he could not believe the railings were still there - complete with head-shaped dent.

And when he heard the school was to be demolished and a new one built in its place, he sent a letter asking to be allowed to buy them.

Ray, now 62, said: "I don't remember a lot about my seven years at Temple, but I do remember that day!

"One of the other lads dared me to stick my head in and I couldn't get it out. They went for a teacher who came out and said I was daft. The fire brigade were called and there was a real commotion.

"I live in America now, but I brought my son over to see where I lived as a kid. I was showing him the place and remembering my happy times there and as I looked around the playground I saw the bent railing. I could not believe it was still there after a century.

When I heard they were going to pull the school down, I wrote to the headteacher and asked if there was any chance that I could have that section of them.

"I suppose it's nostalgia, but despite leaving I still love Manchester."

Headteacher Tony Phillips negotiated with Allenbuild-Turner, who now own the site, and they agreed to give away the small section of railings.

He told the M.E.N.:"The whole thing seems so bizarre it's brilliant. You would think that this was something he would want to forget.:

Colin Veitch, managing director of Allenbuild-Turner, said: "The company has been involved in a number of requests like this before."

But Ray's sister Enid, who still lives in Middleton, wasn't shocked by her brother's latest scheme. "Nothing surprises me" she said.

Article by Deborah Haile

EWM says: Yes, I located and photographed the bent railing in early October 2000 after Ray mentioned it to me in an e-mail message. He later saw an article in Manchester Online telling of the impending demolition of the old Temple school buildings, and contacted me saying he'd like to have the railing shipped to the States. The rest, as they say, is history!




Close window

Join Aidan on his Manchester Photo Walk.
Eyewitness in Manchester Home Page | Aidan O'Rourke on Twitter and Facebook | Contact