|I don't know when this picture of the school, lent to me by
Gwenda, was taken. When I was at school, in the 1950s, the raised platform
at the right of the garden was covered by the school house, where the
headmaster lived. You can still see the gate from the schoolyard.
Bwlchgwyn County Primary School
as it was called in the 1950s
|As a 1950s schoolchild I never saw the garden as it was
generally hidden from view by the laurel bushes which grew in front of the
wall (by the flagpole). Many years earlier, in the 1930s, the garden was
used to teach the boys how to grow vegetables - most boys and girls stayed
at the school until they were 13 unless they passed the scholarship and
got a place in Grove Park in Wrexham..
|Children could either enter the school premises from Stryt
Maelor (at the back of this picture) or by walking up the 'trip' from
Ruthin Road. There was a handrail running down the centre of the 'trip'
and, in the icy winters, this was an absolute necessity if we were to go
up and down the trip without falling on the ice. The boys, of course, were
brave and would slide on the ice, making it even more dangerous whilst
some of the girls tried to grip the metal rail through damp woollen gloves
and mittens. In the summer it provided a ready-made outdoor gymnasium,
ideal for somersaulting.
The picture above was taken in 1959, standards 1 & 2,
with Mrs Hughes, our teacher. The picture was taken in the front
schoolyard, the school house is just visible in the background - bleached
out by the strong sunshine.*
The picture below was taken in 1931 and seems to be class
6 (indistinct). The picture was taken in the school garden, the
photographer being in much the same position as when the picture of the
school (top, above) was taken. There were about four times as many
scholars in the school in 1931 and this is borne out by the large number
of pupils - 31 - in this photograph of just one class.*
Bwlchgwyn School, Class 6, in 1931. My father, William
Arthur Belton, is top row, one from the right.
|My memories are of school in the 1950s, my
father's stories were on school in the 1930s. In her book, " I
Remember...", Gwenda Lewis writes about the history of the school and
recalls some of her memories of the school between 1939 and 1945, having
been sent from her home in London to stay with relatives in the village:
||*Copyright: I do not know and have not been
able to trace the copyright owners of these pictures, if copyright still
exists. I will be happy to acknowledge copyright if it can be proven.
|"Bwlchgwyn Council School
stood at a high point in the village, with a fine view towards the distant
Cheshire Pain. It was built of red brick, surrounded by grey stone
walls, and had opened in 1875. Prior to that there had been a 'National
School' run by the Church of England on another site, in a building
measuring 42ft by 20ft and attended by 118 children who stayed until they
were 13 or 14 years old. This was seen to be very unsatisfactory and
was to be replaced by an Elementary School run by the council." ....
Above, from the front of the school there was a fine
view across the Cheshire Plains.
|..."As soon as the war began I was
enrolled in Bwlchgwyn School, which still catered for children up to the
age of 14. ... By 1939 the school had been extended to deal with the
problem of overcrowded classes, and had electric lighting, which had been
installed only three years previously. Many children still remained
at the school until they were 13 or 14 and when on September 11th a large
number of evacuees from Liverpool arrived with their teachers it was a
very full house with 98 Bwlchgwyn children and 54 evacuees." ...
||..."The school had two
playgrounds, or 'school yards' as they were known, one for the younger
children and the other for the seniors. In between were the toilets,
dreadful smelly places, to be avoided if at all possible." ...
"One charming feature of the school was the bell, set high above the
roof. It sounded a few minutes before lessons began in the mornings and
again at the end of lunch-time."
|..."During periods of
extreme bad weather we were often sent home at three o'clock so that the
children who lived the furthest away could get home before dark. On
October 9th 1939 we were dismissed early because we were soaked through,
and had been since we arrived in pouring rain after lunch. Sitting
in wet clothes for most of the afternoon it was not surprising that there
followed an epidemic of colds and Scarlet Fever. Thankfully I only got the
cold. And most pupils were sufficiently recovered to return to school in
time for our Christmas treat of an apple, an orange and a cracker
"Then the weather turned really nasty and in January 1940 the
school was without water for two weeks because the pipes were
frozen. Worse was to come in 1941 when exceptional wintry weather
caused the school to close for three weeks and snow was still falling in
mid-May. Add to all this, frequent closures for epidemics of
measles, whooping cough etc. which affected whole families, our schooling
could de described as spasmodic at times."
|..."At Easter 1942 the
children over 11 years of age had been transferred to Penygelli Senior
School in Coedpoeth so our school was nor for Infants and Juniors only,
with three classes and three teachers - Miss Morton (by now married to Mr
Richards [the Headmaster]), Miss Roberts and the Headmaster." ...
|..."Apart from the infants class the
children sat at double desks with cast iron legs, the tops of the desks
were worn and scratched over the years and had little china inkwells set
||..."in those days school
pens had detachable nibs which were dipped into the china inkwells set
into our double desks. Too little ink and the letters were illegible, too
much and it would make blots, which would bring the teacher's wrath down
on our heads, so we had to learn to get it just right."...
|..."Clear writing, along
with correct spelling and punctuation, was of great importance and by the
age of 8 we had painstakingly mastered a good 'round hand' with loops in
al the right places. The inkwells were refilled each week and it was an
honour to be chosen to do it, although you needed a steady hand to direct
the flow of ink from the stone bottle into the small hole of the inkwell
without getting yourself covered in it. Any accident and we would be
in trouble with the teacher - and with our mothers when we got
|Extracts taken, with
permission, from "I Remember...My Life in Bwlchgwyn 1939-1943"
by Gwenda Lewis: (c) Gwenda Lewis 2005