WHEN I WAS YOUNG—– EASTERN SCHOOL FOR BOYS

Soon after my 8th Birthday, without prompting I decided it was time to leave Groes and go to Eastern School in Taibach.

I made the mile walk to Eastern School, full of nerves I entered the gates,found the Headmasters office, after taking my details was taken to my first lesson in Class 4.Not knowing a soul , having to survive  a much larger playground full of bigger boys with their more hectic and physical behaviour I was always glad to get back to the sanctuary of the classroom.

After A year I left Class 4. and started the frightening tenure of Class5 taught by the notorious Mr Meredith Jones who ruled with a policy of pain punishment. For any bad behaviour or scholastic failing you would receive raps across your knuckles with the sharp end of a 12 inch ruler, he judged its severity by the cries of pain.

It was Scolarship year, now referred to as ‘Eleven Plus’ when the the top 120 in the borough were selected for Grammar Schools. To his credit he had the best pass rate of all the schools in the Borough. After the exam we were moved to Class 6 and Mr Skyrm and await the results.

I was lucky, the first in the family to hear that I had passed and would be starting in The County School the next September.

WHEN I WAS YOUNG—–CONTINUED

The highlights of the school year when I was at Groes were Christmas and St.Davids Day. St Davids was an spectacle with the girls wearing daffodils, Welsh traditional costumes, complete with tall black bonnets. The boys came wearing leeks, and bearing  homemade shields and wooden swords.   That morning all the women would be n their doorsteps admiring  the parade  its way to school. It was always half  day in school on Patron Saints Day

Christmas was an event. The schoo Christmas Party was held in Margam Abbey church hall. Sponsored and paid for by te estate for the children of its workers, but a the pupils who attended Groes School were welcomed. In the hall large trestle tables were laid out with sandwiches of potted salmon,cucumber and egg , jellies blancmanges, custards, Chritmas cake and bottles galore of lemonade dandelion and burdock, timer. On the stage was the largest Chritmas tree we had ever seen surrounded by gift wrapped boxes. After gorging ourselves to excess our names were called out in turn to receive from Capt. Fletchers wife what we’re always substantial presents like dolls, nurses outfits ,wind up vehicles cap guns,etc. We were well drilled in behaviour, the boys bowed, the girls curtsied and we  all said “thank you Lady Fletcher”  To end the party she would wish us all a Merry Christms And we would sing “For she’s a jolly good fellow”.

Christmas at home was always special,starting with letters of wish lists up the chimney and complete belief In Father Christmas. On the day we would be awake at some ungodly hour, hoping He had come ,first the opening of our stockings, to find a tangerine in silver paper ,a torch , a comb, chocolates and perhaps a gasoline. The a mad dash downstairs to see what we had got. I can remember at different times having a toy fort with an array of lead soldiers,another time  a huge Meccano set,were always well cared for

.One Christmas I can remember my older brother Elfed getting as air pistol and seeing  Dad at the bottom of the garden bent over chopping wood,ever the rebel, he could n’t resist ands shot a dart hitting him in the bottom. It did n’t really penetrate his thick tweed trousers and wool long johns. It did produce a help, much  laughter and confistication of the pistol for few days.

Every year we  had chicken or goose,Chriztmas pudding for dinner then retire to the front room with loads ofvistors,Will Curtis at the piano and a continual sing song. After  sandwiches, trifle, mince pies and cake it was bed tired but more than satisfied

Meanwhile,those who walk with the wise be come wise

                                                                                                                         

WHEN I WAS YOUNG. Continued

As mentioned in my last blog I started school in Groes Infants, age 4/5 years. The school had three classes. Class 1 was taught by Miss Thomas, Cass 2 was taught by Miss Smith and Class 3 by the Headmaster, Mr Vaughan.                                                                                                                                               

The two much prized pupil  posts were Ink Monitor ,who was responsible for the filling of the ink wells in each desk from a large earthenware bottle. But the most desired job was Milk Monitor, who each morning had to collect from the school gates the crates of the class milk bottles then distribute them with straws to his fellow pupils.

Playtime was always exciting, being adjacent to the woods. Next to the play yard was an old large Elderberry tree, very suitable for climbing and performing acrobatics on. Boys would hang by their legs from the branches, no trouble with short trousers. Whilst the girls would do the same with their skirts tucked into their knickers

All three classes would assemble together many times during the week to practice their times tables,supervised by the Headmaster, Mr Vaughan. When we would chant in harmony the 2 times up to the 12 times table. We learnt our tables parrot fashion and no pupil left that school not knowing the alphabet or his times tables.

Mr Vaughan, the Headmaster always carried a cane, this was age of corporal punishment measured by the severity of pain. The school was thus well disciplined and good behaviour was practiced by most of the pupils.

And this is where I was schooled up to the age of 8 years when I moved up to the Eastern School in Taibach.

Meanwhile it is said that ” a wise man can see more in the bottom of a well than a fool can see from the top of a mountain”

THE VILLAGE OF GROES.                                                                  

To satisfy family feeling, tradition and of course Acts of Parliament, I started school, aged. 4/5 years. There was no selection or choice of school, just turning up at your nearest local primary school . My nearest school was in the village of Groes.

This week I am talking about this village only and will my schooling next week.

The village of Groes no longer exists. Sadly and criminally knocked down for thr the construction of the the M4 motorway, planners at that time said there was no other route. Although recently an alternative roadway has been built from Margam bypassing Port Talbot to the Souh of the town. All to late to save Groes from the bulldozers.

The village housed the Margam Estate workers. The centre of the village was a conglomerate of allotments with terraced houses on its sides. They were stone built with hard earth floors. Houses and allotment gardens were proudly cared for.

In addition to the school there was the well known Round Chapel, which with the lane that led to the Brombil along side it forming the boundary to the village. The whole not just being feudal but an admired architectural site

It has been difficult putting into words th loveliness of this village and next week we will remember my schooling, meanwhile, ” I get annoyed when  I think about how we we are depleting our planet. Nature is so giving we must learn not to take so much or at least to give something back.”

WHEN I WAS YOUNG   (The telling of the life  of an unknown in rural Margam during the thirties and the War years). L

I was born 1931 in Margam Road, Borr, Borough of Port Talbot. The  joungest of four children of Jack and Sara Jones.Our neighbours were the Williams family . They had a singular passion for motorcycles. Years later their eldest so became World Speedway Champion. On the other side of the road was a thatch cottage called ‘Twll yen y wal'( transl. Hole in the wall) From the high window in the gable end, years ago coach men could reach e refreshing pint at this stopping point. It has since been taken down piece by piece and rebuilt at St Fagens Folk Museum. Behind where we lived were the wetlands and sand dunes,this was long before the building of the Abbey Steelworks.

Tel you more next week,meanwhile “Live simply that others might simply live”

AuaThe DAVIES SISTERS of Gregynog Hall (Powis ).                      

” Approach  life and art with love” (a Picasso quote I believe ) is truly personified by Gwendoline(1882-1951 ) and Margaret (1886-1963 ) with their lifestyle and achievements.

TheDavies sisters,social philanthropists and art collectors were the granddaughters of industrialist David Davies. They were idependantly wealthy, their fortunes inherited from the businesses created by their grandfather.

They grew up in Plas Dinham, Montgomeryshire and were educated iHighfieldSchool, Hendon.

Their upbringing was strictly Calvinistic Methodism and both girls were steadfast churchgoers, teetotallers and Sabatarians. Though extremely attractive ,these two extraordinary women led very sheltered lives. They had never danced , never married , and as far is known never went on a date. At the start of the 20th. Century, they were the two richest unwed women in the British Isles.

Neither sister enjoyed good health but they still poured their energies into social philanthropy and into art.

They began collecting art in 1907, concentrating on pre-impressionist painting, in particular French Avant Garde art.The sisters were much bolder than their advisors,although sometimes unconventional, they proved to have unerring good taste.Their purchases included Corot, Millet, Daumier and Turner.

In 1912 they turned their attention to impressionist and post impressionist art . Buying amongst other things, three of Monet’s water lilies paintings.

They also bought the sort of art  no one would associate with the image of Calvinistic Welsh spinsters. Like Cezanne’s sexist figurative works and a group of extremely sensual Rodins’.

By the 1920’sthey decided they could not afford the luxury of buying art with the appalling need of humanity to be addressed.

Instead of adding to their collection, they had to decide what to do with it.

They eventually agreed that the National Gallery of Wales(a building they had largely paid for ) should have it to enrich Welsh culture and rid the perennial blindness of their countrymen.

I trust you’ll agree “they approached life and art with love” . Showing at all times their faith and convictions, contributing with their monies and time , assisting the victims of war torn Europe in the hospitals of Paris and subsequently enriching the lives of others with their wonderful art collection.