By Mark McConville
TAKE a look inside the cracking, crumbling remains of the grammar school once attended by Stan Laurel, one half of the famous comedy duo Laurel and Hardy.
Haunting photos show the rotting remains of the derelict King James I Grammar School in Bishop Auckland which Laurel attended for three years from 1902.
The eerie images show missing ceilings, wrecked walls, peeling paint and wallpaper and crumbling fireplaces of the school which opened in 1864 and suffered a decade ago.
The pictures were taken by urban exploration group WildBoyz who wanted to walk the same corridors as the ‘legendary’ Laurel.
“We walked, tentatively, across the first room, after realising that most of the floorboards were so decayed they crumbled beneath our feet,” one of the members said.
“Further into the school, it was obvious that the entire structure was in a sorry looking state.
“None of this mattered though. After all, it is likely Arthur Stanley Jefferson (Laurel) had walked through these very rooms.”
Stan Laurel was part of a comedy double act alongside Oliver Hardy from 1927 to 1950.
Although the pair had well-established film careers before they’d reached new heights once they decided to team up.
Laurel and Hardy’s slapstick brand of comedy featured in 107 films including short silent films, short sound films and full-length feature films.
They were voted the seventh greatest comedy act of all time in 2005 by a UK poll of fellow comedians.
“Determined to reach the top floor, we continued with our slow pace. None of us suddenly fancied plummeting through the floor,” a member said.
“Step by step, we ascended to the uppermost floor of the school. There was no doubt about it, this was clearly where the fire had been back in 2007.
“A large metal support structure filled the entire room, and above we could see a large white tarp, clearly covering a gaping hole were a slate titled roof should have been.
“There was no real reason why we needed to wander around up here, but since Laurel had been here it seemed worth it.
“With the sound of Dance of the Cuckoos ringing in our ears, we thought we’d take a chance, doing a dance, because, well, I’m a cuckoo and you’re a cuckoo.”