Archive for September, 2009

Decline in West Mon Boarders

September 8, 2009

I started at West Mon in 1942, the same year that “Nazo” Harrison became Headmaster. I got the impression that he was keen on building up the number of boarders as it was only the following year that the new Form One was established. You might remember that it was one of those boys who was drowned.

Whether this had any effect on the continuation of Form One or not I can’t say but at that time I was told that there were 80 boarders in the school. We had one in form 2A called Billy Monk who hailed from Manchester. He was a bright lad but many boarders were not as they were able to enter the school without sitting the entrance exam. Consequently there were more boarders in the B and C classes.

I was rather surprised therefore to get another email from Clive Barnby of Pontypridd who reports a large falling off in the number of boarders, so much so that their previous quarters were used by day boys. He says:

As one of my emails stirred memories, David, I thought I’d try it again !!  By the time I got to West Mon, most of the boarders had disappeared. There were about a handful or two but I’m not sure if they boarded in the school. I recall some who lived in the Abergavenny area & as they were relatively senior, I think they “commuted in”. I think there were a few who lived too far away & boarded in Blaendare Road &/or with masters & their wives.

Our new school library was an old dormitory. It overlooked the Old Quad & was above what I think we still called the Boarders Day Rooms. Down one side of the library was a partition & behind the partition were a no. of washbasins. There were chairs by each one, & each one had a wooden cover, so you could use it as a desk. Perhaps they were like that when it was occupied as a dorm & pupils could also use it for studying & work.

However I assume there must have been another or other dorms. There was a large no. of boarders at one time & tho’ they’d have probably been “packed” into the (now) library, no doubt violating current Health & Safety, I’m not sure it would have been sufficient for them all.

We used some rooms in “The Attic” in 6/7 Arts, one for economics & a larger one for history which was a bigger class. Our classroom in 7Arts was the “Old Bathroom”. There were presumably quarters for masters who lived in the school, & I wondered where those were & how many “house-masters” there were. As I said, wondered if this email would bring back enough memories for another post. Worth a try !!

Kind regards,


I was also surprised to hear that some boarders stayed in Blaendare Road or with staff members and their wives. I know that three masters lived in Blaendare Road: Messrs George Bicknell, (physics), Pead (physics), and “Fatman” Williams (French).

I remember moving in September 1947 from 6 arts to 7 arts which was in the New Building attic. It was a room with a stepped floor, far too large for the seven or eight boys in that form.

I wonder whether there are any former boarders reading this who might be able to shed some light on the disappearing West Mon boarders.