Town School junior section

It was a journey of only a few yards to move from Town School Infants to the Juniors. Classes one and two were at the Infants’ end of the corridor. It was another large room and divided by a heavy green curtain. Class one was taught by Miss Lewis, a cheerful, red-faced dumpy character who was the sister of Mr J.P. Lewis, the headmaster. The younger Miss Gameson, tall, angular and not very experienced, taught the second class. The furthest extremity of this room was partitioned off as the staff room. Two other classrooms in that building ran off the same narrow corridor where Mr Hughes and Mr Rees taught. These were separated – more splendidly than classes one and two – by a sliding glass partition. It didn’t slide all that well so it was only opened on really special occasions.

Finally, at the end of the corridor, there was the hallowed ground of the headmaster’s office, large and lino’d with high, glass-fronted cupboards containing the precious stock of books, pencils, rulers etc. Around the corner was another corridor with class three off it where Miss Brooks taught, and at the end, the porch which contained the hand-basins and hooks for coats for use by the boys. Narrow double doors off this corridor also gave access to the small playground where we also did our “drill”. (There is a photograph of this playground in my much later post on the Centenary Book.) On the far side were the boys’ toilets. The girls’ toilets and cloakroom were in another room at the back of the building.

The heating for these classes was provided by iron tortoise stoves. In winter, the luckless caretaker had to arrive at work at the crack of dawn to light the temperamental stoves which were often difficult to get going, but, once they were alight they provided a great deal of heat so that it was impossible to sit too near. Sometimes the tops glowed red with the heat. On severe winter days when we could hardly write because of cold fingers, we were allowed to go out in twos and threes to warm our hands by the stove for a few minutes.

In those days it was common to refer to the classes as “standard one” and “standard two” etc. This was because, previously, you only advanced from one class to the next when you had reached a certain standard, not on your age. Consequently you could get a mixture of ages in the same class. Promotion according to age was not fully implemented at the time I’m speaking about and there could be a slight overlapping of ages; for instance, I was in the “scholarship class” for two years.

The only other classroom was known as “the bungalow”. This was on higher ground at the back of the main building and was reached by a flight of stone steps. It was figuratively and literally “a cut above the rest” as it contained class four, which was “the eleven plus class” and was also referred to as “the scholarship class”. Scholarship indeed! Each year about half the children opted to enter the examination which might lead to a grammar school education. To urge us on in this ambition, our teachers constantly reminded us that success in this examination was the only way to ensure a really good job when we left school.

The class was in the very capable hands of Mr Petty, the finest and most dedicated teacher who ever taught me. He had such a dynamic effect on my life that I want to say a lot more about him in a future entry. The room had a small cloakroom just inside the door and the rest was used as the classroom. Right at the front, near the teacher’s high desk, was a coal fire with a high metal guard. This was the only form of heating so that, if you were unlucky enough to be seated at the back of the room, there was an advantage in that it was difficult for the teacher to see what you were doing, but a disadvantage in that you were in danger of freezing in the winter. Sometimes the temperature was so low that we were allowed to sit with our coats and gloves on. Lighting was provided by a series of gas lamps high up on the walls around the room. They weren’t often used as it necessitated Mr Petty walking around the class with a lighted piece of paper in his hand and turning on and lighting each globe separately; and, obviously, doing a second round later to turn them off. There was one advantage of being in class four: to the side and rear of the classroom was a small playground and this was reserved for class four children only.

Compared with the spanking new Park Terrace school, a short distance away, resplendent in red brick with the novelty of a playground on the roof, Town School was traditional, solid, being built of stone, in rather poor repair and very old, having been built in 1838 as the plaque on the outside wall announced to all who passed by. I well remember the high jinks and celebrations in 1938 when we celebrated the centenary of the school. I still have the small booklet which was issued to us all at the time as part of those celebrations. See my much later blog on the contents of this booklet. Even the glass partition was pushed back to enable the headmaster to talk to two classes at once.


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12 Responses to “Town School junior section”

  1. Dennis Gould Says:

    Hello, I attended Town School until leaving for West Mon in 1960.
    I was in Standard 4A for two and a half years with Mr. Hughes whom I loved dearly. He used to give me the free gifts from his cereal boxes. We did the same work over and over each year and sometimes, on a special occasion, Mr. Hughes would let us paint. His job was to get as many as possible through the 11Plus exam. There were probably 44 of us in the class in my final year though not all were in their final year. Six of us passed the exam and I can remember Mr. Lewis coming into the room to give the class the results. Judith Herbert, Gwilys Edwards, Janet Thomas, Sandra Williams, Paul Barnes and myself were then told we could go home to tell our mothers who would be waiting for news. No telephones in those days and no Health and Safety either ! We then had to come back to school. All the girls lived in Penygarn or Trevethin and had to catch buses whilst Barnesy and I lived on High Street and Broadway and so could run home in about two minutes flat.
    I was in Miss Lewis’ class – Standard 1- and then into Standard 3 with Mrs. Hughes (Mr Hughes’ wife).

    In the infants I remember Mrs. Harrison and Mrs. Maurice (?).

    Mis Lewis was lovely. One of the children in our class – Sammy – fell asleep one day. Miss Lewis told us to be very quiet as Sammy had lots of children in his house (at least 12) and had to share beds with his brothers so probably didn’t get much sleep. I also remember a much older bully called Watkins who hit one of our class at lunchtime. Miss Lewis sent for him after dinner and gave him some fearful smacks to the head before bending him over and “dapping” him. No more problems from him.

    I remember being caned by Mr. Lewis for talking in line. Must have been a bad day for him that day.

    Another teacher, rather large, called Mrs Willis hated me. I mean really hated me and was nasty to me at every opportunity. Even though I say it myself I was not badly behaved at all and I still cannot understand what I did to make her feel that way. Is it too late to be enlightened on this by anybody who may know the answer?

    On the day of enrolling at school my mother took me down the Bell Pitch and stopped at the bottom of the steps and asked mw which school did I want to go to – Town School or Park Terrace. I am so glad I chose Town School. I loved my time there.

    • carol rhys davies(nee gould) Says:

      Hello Dennis,I notice you lived in pontypool and I wonder if you knew anything of my grandfather Samuel Gould who would have been born in the early 1900,s.His family came from pontypool and I knew of one brother at least. He move to senghenydd later and had 4 children one of whom was my father.If you can help in any way with my research into the gould family from pontypool,I would appreciate it.Thanks,Carol Rhys Davies(nee gould)casarhys@fsmail.net

  2. Robert Miles Says:

    I attended Town School, leaving in 1956. I remember Mr Hughes, he was a good teacher. Also his wife she always wore open toe sandals. And his daughter Jane she had long plaits the boys used to cause her havoc poor love. My favourite teacher was Miss Lewis, anyone remember her squeaky wooden leg. She hit you with two rulers like a slapstick. More noise that pain. Loved the discipline of learning by rote can still say my times tables. Also remember Mr Lewis with his cane.
    They were indeed happy days. I lived in Penygarn so walked to school through the town. The wonderful smells of the market. They were painting the railway bridge and somehow I got covered in paint or was it my brother John? Is there an old pupils association or any photographs I am niow 65 and would greatly appreciate corresponding with anyone who attended what was a very good school.

  3. Penny Huntington Says:

    I well remember Dennis Gould, Judith Herbert, Gwilys Edwards and Janet Thomas, though as a Park Terrace student, I didn’t get to meet them until we all went to “The County” Pontypool Grammar School for Girls.
    I lived in the fish and chip shop in High Street, next door to The Colliers Arms and opposite The Bush. Dennis lived at The Bell Inn which was a favourite gathering place for children because it had a long handrail that we played on, swinging upside down and risking smashed heads. His parents were very tolerant of the kids gathered outside and I don’t remember being ejected ever. I loved Park Terrace school, We had a superb rocking horse and kind teachers, Miss Drayton taught the first class of infants, she lived on Wainfelin Road near my Nanny, Arianwen Parton who also had a fish and chip shop at 1 Wainfelin Road, which she ran with the help of Edie after my grandfathers death in 1944. My Great Grandfather, William Evans, was one of the stalwarts of St Davids Chapel on Osborne Road.
    I was disappointed to find that Park Terrace had been demolished. I had happy trouble free years there. There was always a rivalry between us and Town School, we always thought we were very superior! No doubt they thought they were superior to us too.

  4. Clive Barnby Says:

    My main memory of the Huntington fish and chip shop is walking past in the evening and it was always brightly-lit inside with various flavoured bottles of pop on the shelves. At least, I think that’s what I remember !! Dont remember any of the personalities.

    I was in Town School with Jackie Gibbon (Moreton street) and Diane Pask (Bell pitch) whom Penny may remember as they both went to the Girls County. I’d guess a couple of years ahead. Jackie was a lecturer at Coleg Gwent in Cross Keys in German or French but may have now retired. Dont know what happened to Diane.

    I was friendly with a Philip Barnes (Broadway) the final year in Town School. He had a younger brother, Paul, whom Penny might have known. Lost touch with Philip as, unfortunately, at the end of our days at Town School, we went separate ways – Philip to Croesyceiliog, me to West Mon.

  5. Dianne Parton Says:

    Dear Penny,

    I think we are related. I am the granddaughter of William Ronald Parton, and the daughter of William Godfrey Edgington Parton of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. My father has a first cousin named Sonya that I believe would be your sister (actually I guess that would make you his first cousin too). I was thrilled to find your writings on line and to hear about my distant family in Pontypool. I would be interested in finding out more about my father’s family. I think I once read a page on a ‘Roots’website that you must have written, I would love a copy of those writings and any other writings that you have done pertaining to our family tree. It is truly amazing what you can find on the ‘net’ these days!

    I have 7 children and would love to update you on all your Canadian relations from Roy’s marriage to Elizabeth (Betty) and the gand and great grand children they have from their 6 children.

    Dianne Louisdemontfort@hotmail.com

  6. andrea reilly(nee simpson) Says:

    I left Town School in 1964,going on to The County Girls School.I lived in Trevethin and remember vividly the winter o f63/64 and having to walk to the school to pick up homework to study for the 11plus. Icannot remember how long the schhol was closed for but I seemed to spend months taking my baking sheet to slide down through the woods to town and then trudging back up that hill!
    Only two girls and I think 1 boy passed the 11 plus that year,not surprisingly. The other girl was called Gaynor and her father was a vet in Penygarn.
    I remember the top class and the warm milk and freezing rooms. I also remember lovely Christmas parties with decorations made in class.

    Ihave very fond memories of Town School. Not the smartest school but one
    that encouraged you to do your best.
    I wish I could remember some of the teachers names. !

  7. Clive Barnby Says:

    If Andrea left Town School in 1964, I would guess she started in 1957 when Mr Lewis would have been in his final year as Head. I think Miss Williams was still head of the infants & Mr Hughes deputy head. The other teachers would have been Mrs Chesterman (Miss Venard), Miss Long, Miss Lewis (sister of Mr Lewis) Mrs Hughes (wife of Mr Hughes) Mrs Wilcox & Mac Harris.

    In 58/59 the infants section closed (or ceased to take new entrants) & I would think Miss Williams, Miss Long & Miss Lewis would have retired along with Mr Lewis (or within a couple of years) Mrs Chesterman was younger. Mr Hughes became Head but I believe he moved on after a year & perhaps his wife left with him, & a Mr Hopkins became Head. I had left by this time, & probably by 1964, there were few of the teachers left from the late 50s. I think the school closed completely by the end of the decade or, at least, in the earlier 70s. Would be interested if anyone knows the exact year.

  8. Clive Barnby Says:

    Just a correction to earlier comment – it was, I think, Mrs Willis, not Mrs Wilcox. When I was at Town School, she took 4B, which was the class of 11+ pupils who were considered not good enough to pass the 11+ exam, as opposed to 4A, the old “scholarship class”, most of whom went on to Abersychan Grammar, the then newly-opened Croesyceiliog Grammar, the Girls County or West Mon. By this time, in my last year or two of Town School, the Senior Section there had closed. Prior to that time, many of those who failed the 11+ exam stayed on at Town School til they were 14-15.

    As I said in my earlier post, the closure of the Infants Section followed on the closure of the Senior Section in the late 1950s and I guess this sounded the death knell of the school which closed completely in the late 60s or early 70s.

  9. John Godwin Says:

    John Godwin

    Pupil Jan 45- June 47, Std1 Miss Lewis,Std2Ms Venables?
    Std3 Ms Maurice. Transferred to Pontnewyndd PS and thereafter
    West Mon 1951. I remember to this day Miss Lewis as a lovely
    lady and all my teachers seemed to be able to teach us the baics very well.
    I also recall rota learning and learning to read starting off with
    letters/ syllables. I recall that by third class almost everybody
    was able to read and do simple sums. These methods have been rediscovered recently. It is called progress!
    The school was very dilapidated but a friendly place,reflecting a time of considerable austerity and Pontypools industrial surroundings,mining ,steel etc; I remember only one pupil,Stinker Stevens,mainly because we had a little punch up in the school yard.
    Also the awful winter of 1947,not helped by shortages and rationing
    are still vivid memories as well as the odd food parcel from USA,during WW2.Franketti’s F&C were excellent especially as you
    could get a handful of chips for I penny. We even had a gang on the Coedcae,and great bonfire nights.It is really amazing to see how life In Pontypool as changed over65 years as the town has also lost much of its character,some pubs ,its mining and steel community etc

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  11. Penny Huntington Says:

    I see that this thread is still running. I would love to hear from any of my peer group at Park Terrace / Town School
    Penny Huntington
    ayesharn@gmail.com

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