The Village School (Gwenda)

Illustrations from Gwenda Lewis’ collection or from my collection as indicated

Extracts from Gwenda Lewis’ book  – page 2

‘I Remember … My Life in Bwlchgwyn 1939-1943’

Taken from chapter 6, The Village School. Text (c) Gwenda Lewis 2005

“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.” ….

From the front of the school there was a fine view across the Cheshire Plains. (Hilary)

“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 front of the school, facing Ruthin Road. (Gwenda)

“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 each. “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.”

“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 home.”