History of the Red Barns.
I READ with interest your feature on the Red Barns Hotel, Redcar (Gazette, 09.01.16). Of course, Red Barns' main claim to fame is that it was the home of Gertrude Bell, the famous linguist, traveller, archaeologist, feminist pioneer and friend of Lawrence of Arabia.
But the feature omits to mention that, for several decades, Red Barns was an important annexe to Sir William Turner's School (Coatham Grammar School), then situated on Coatham Road.
Red Barns contained the headmaster's house, accommodation for the boarders and a cramped dining hall for us day boys.
From 1919-1941, the headmaster was the Anglican priest Harold Littler, who, incidentally, had lived on the same staircase, at Jesus College, Oxford, as Gertrude's T E Lawrence (Small world, isn't it?).
One dark evening, early in the Second World War, Harold was approaching his Red Barns home when a squaddie on patrol sang out: "Who goes there?" "Littler" was the reply. Thinking the headmaster said "Hitler", the squaddie fired off a couple of rounds. Luckily, his aim was as bad as his hearing and Harold survived.
When I attended the school in the 1950s and 1960s, you could still see the bullet holes in Red Barns' fence.
The incident, however, seems to have shaken our friend because he soon fled from Redcar to follow a less dangerous vocation as parish priest at Shipton-on-Stour.Cllr STEVE KAY, Lockwood Ward