West Mon forms six and seven

West Mon Six Arts 1947

 

Once I’d got used to the idea of starting at West Mon in Form Two, class titles from then on progressed numerically upwards until we eventually reached Form Five where we took the Oxford matriculation exam. Forms Four and Five were sub-divided into Five Science and Five Arts in order to allow us to choose which subjects we wished to take for the matric. We normally took eight subjects and in order to gain a matric we had to get at least five credits and three passes. If we failed in just one subject and wished to try again it meant taking all the subjects again and not just the one we’d failed.

If we obtained a matric we then had the option of staying on for another two years to take the Oxford Higher School Certificate examination. Usually this was in three chosen subjects, though, if you were exceptionally bright, you were allowed to take four. Standards in those days were very high indeed and I only knew one boy who took four subjects; we all regarded him as a genius.

Sixth forms were quite small at that time as it was possible to leave school at fifteen and most boys wanted to leave school to start work. The final year for the Higher exam was Form Seven, either arts or science. Both forms were housed in the upper reaches of the New Building. New boys thought this was fitting, as from those hallowed heights, were chosen the prefects who kept us in order. They were regarded as living on a scholastic Mount Olympus. 

It was a great and important day for me when I entered Form Six Arts. There were only eight or nine of us in the form as you can see in the photograph, and we were housed in a small room to the right of the main door as you entered; it was opposite the library. Today it is the reception area. The room accommodated about ten desks and the teacher’s desk and was quite a cosy arrangement.  Our classroom window is just off the photograph, top right.

 

This second photograph is an enlargement of the boys in the class just in case any visitors can recognise a relative or friend – or, of course, themselves! One of the boys in the form took the photograph and perhaps there might be one member missing. Sadly I’ve forgotten some of the names but I know that the boy on the left of the front row is Donald Francis whom I met some years ago in Newport when he was curate of  St Julius and Aaron Church in Heather Road. The one on the right of the front row is T.R.Bryant whom I think was a very good snooker player and lived in the Talywain area. I am on the left of the back row and next to me is Keith Luton who also lived in Wainfelin. Next to him is Peter Jones who was a very good cricketer and, on a few occasions, played cricket with us on The Circle at Wern Terrace. There are a few names I can’t remember. Sorry about that, gentlemen, but, it’s been a long time! My further apologies if any of the details are not quite accurate.

One of the advantages of being in the sixth form was that we were allowed much more freedom and we were allowed to leave the school premises to visit the tuck shop and so on. We were even allowed to use the hallowed, tree-lined school drive. The other boys had to walk down the road outside.

At the end of my sixth form year my parents moved to Cardiff. I joined them for the holidays but decided to remain at West Mon for one more year to complete my Higher course. I had various offers to stay with relatives so, on the face of it, there seemed no problem. I had made a number of friends in Pontypool and places nearby and didn’t want to be parted from them. In September I moved over to the New Building into Seven Arts. Wow! I’d made it! 

But living with kind relatives was not quite the same as living at home with my family. I missed them a lot more than I’d anticipated so, after about six weeks or so, I decided to leave West Mon and attend a school near my new Cardiff home. Sadly I said goodbye to all my friends. In a matter of days I was attending Howard Gardens High School where I was pleasantly surprised that the good name of West Mon had gone before me and I was welcomed with open arms; I hadn’t realised that my old school had enjoyed such status. I had been expecting to move into the equivalent of Seven Arts which at Howard Gardens was Upper Six Arts, but, unfortunately there was just one snag: my Higher subjects had been English Literature, Art and French, but, at Howard Gardens French and Art were alternatives. I had no option but to move into Lower Six Arts and to study economics instead of French. I had to start the Higher course all over again!

Lower Six Arts was, again, a very small class of just nine boys but they were a friendly bunch and we had three wonderful teachers which made my two years a very happy time. I was appointed editor of the school magazine and was chosen to play for the school cricket team. (All that practice at The Circle had finally paid off!) There was one occasion when I was chosen to play for the school rugby team, and guess who our opponents were . . . you’ve guessed it . . . West Mon.

 

For any old Mestmonians who might read this, I have been sent the following information which might be of interest:

 

Subject: West Mon RFC INFO and Diary Dates

1 Fixtures and other useful information can be found on the club’s website www.westmonrfc.co.uk 

2 After waiting 59 years for its first victory over Forge Side, the club followed it up on Saturday with a 21-10 win over the top of the valley side.  In true Forge Side tradition, they didn’t take defeat too well.

3 As part of the 60th anniversary celebrations, the club will be holding a former players’ and associates’ day on Saturday 7th March when it entertains Abersychan.

4 The club has available a limited number of ties to commemorate the anniversary and can be purchased at a price of £10.  If interested email

Wccoughlan @aol.com, with your order………and hurry because they are going fast

5 This year’s Xmas Golf Day is being held on Friday 28th November 08 at the Alice Springs Golf Course.  More info to follow shortly.

Regards

Gary

www.westmonrfc.co.uk

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