West Mon memories from Australia

Quite a number of people from countries all over the world have come across this blog when researching their family history. Such was the case with an old Westmonian, Geoff Lloyd, who lives in Queensland, Australia. In the first email I received from him he wrote:


“I live in Queensland, Australia. I was doing some more research on my Family Tree & came across your Website. I was particularily interested in the blogs about West Mon School, which I attended 1948-55,(Awarded a “Scholarship” of 5 pounds a year, for being in the top 3 in the County 11 Plus Exams),  still have a photo of my final year in 7 Science with all 11 boys identified together with the teachers Miss Moseley & Ken Smith.

   I was born & lived on Varteg Lane, Varteg 1937, moving to 25 Sunnybank Rd. Griffithstown in 1949. After getting B.Sc. in Biochem at Birmingham Uni. & Ph.D. in Bangor, I emigrated to Australia in 1965, to work as a Research Scientist with CSIRO.

   My father (Herbert Lloyd) was well known in Pontypool, practising as an Optician & Chiropodist in “Cross Chambers” Crane St. 1946-63. I would be happy to pass on any memories etc – perhaps you can suggest how to go about this.”


I therefore invited Geoff to send me some of his memories and also the photograph he referred to so that I could use them in a blog post. This is what he said in his second email:


West Mon 7 Science

7 Science West Mon School 1955

“I have attached the photo I mentioned of 7 Science 1955. I am standing directly behind Ken Smith – the names reading from left to right (taken from their signatures on the back of the photo)

1 &2 not sure, F.J. Pugsley/John J.G. Ellis – both I think were boarders.

3 D.E. Davies

4 Hugh Thompson

5 B.A. Jones – believe he is the “BA’ who later returned as a master

6 R .Hughes

7. Geoffrey T Lloyd

8 Peter M. Brown

9 A.J. Thyer

10 E.H.A. Evans

11 M.H. Phillips.


“I also have a copy of the 75th anniversary edition of the Westmonian which I was given when I revisited West Mon in 1973.

   BA Jones & I in our 6th & 7th years were  paid (a token amount!) to look after the Chemistry & Physics Labs respectively, preparing the masters’ demonstrations for the lower forms & setting up/cleaning after the senior classes. This allowed us both some dubious & unauthourised experiments!! I found Ken Smith very easy to get on with, but Mr Illingworth was every bit as bad as some of your blog respondents remember. No Health & Safety in those days I “cleaned” the stocks of Mercury by pouring it through a Nitric Acid bath.

  ” I remember Harry Room the German Teacher very well, I think that he was appointed in my time to allow pupils to sit for the “O” Levels as the then current entry requirements into some of the “Red Brick” universities, were to have passes in both French & German.

   We were encouraged to set up penpal arrangements with a school in Solingen in Germany. This helped to develop our language skills & I think it was in 1953 that students from that school came to Pontypool, staying with the families of the West Mon pupils & going to school for a couple of weeks. I remember reciprocating the following year, going by Train/Cross Channel Ferry (No quick aeroplane flights in those days) to Cologne & on to stay with my penpal in Solingen.

   There were still a lot of boarders in my days & in the winters when there was a decent snowfall, there were always very vigrous snowball fights between the day boys & them in the quadrangle between the dining room & the dormitories. Because there were so many boarders, it meant that we still had school on Saturday morning, with sport in the afternoon, as well as Tuesday & Thursday if you happened to be selected in the playing teams.

   Does anyone remember the Rolls Royce Engine from a Spitfire that used to be in the New Building near the stairs to the lower level? Small parts of it seemed to disappear frequently as souvenirs.”


   I’d like to thank Geoff for these memories. It’s possible that somebody might recognise themselves or perhaps a relative or friend in the photograph above.

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9 Responses to “West Mon memories from Australia”

  1. emrys lewis Says:

    In this blog under “rugby reminiscences” I sent a school photo of the colts rugby team for 1950. I,m pretty certain that Edgar Evans and M. H. Phillips are in both photos. I was born in Garndiffaith and recognise a number of others in Geoff’s photo. I attended from 1947 to 1953 and spent a year in the 6th form before leaving.

    Regards, Emrys lewis

    • clive barnby Says:

      I recognise Brian Jones (known as BA) from the photo. He became a master at the school in 1959 – at the end of 58/59 Mrs (Ma) Moseley moved to the Girls County, & Alan Rosser, who died recently, was “elevated” to teaching A-level biology. Think he did botany with Les (Basher) Bennet doing zoology.

      He only remained at the school for about three years, & was appointed as a lecturer at Usk College but died only a few years later at a few young age.

      Harry Room had a son, Graham, who was in my year. Tho’ he was talented at languages, he went on to become professor of European social policy at Bath University.

      • clive barnby Says:

        Just to clarify it was Brian Jones who left the school after a few years to move to Usk & died at (what should have been) a “fairly young age”.

  2. Wiliiam Raymond Griffiths Says:

    I was delighted to discover Geoff’s message on this site – I’ve been trying to trace him for years!! Hello again Geoff, long time since our adventures on the Varteg Waste!
    I knew he’d moved to Australia in the early sixties, but thought it was to the Melbourne area.
    We went through WMS together, form by form, up the the end of the third year, when he opted for sciences while I moved in the Arts direction. We remained in contact until he and his wife emigrated.
    The “Spitfire” engine he mentioned, in an alcove half way along the corridor in the New Block,was, i believe, a Rolls Royce ” Merlin”. It always appeared a bit sad,dusty and neglected-looking to me,probably because I was always more poet than engineer!
    Reading through the various messages recorded on the different sites, I’ve encountered references to most of the teachers known to us, but does anyone remember Ridge (understood to have served in the Tank Corps, and, as legend would have it, with the scar of a bullet wound in his neck); Hunt who taught Art and had an Old Testament nickname(which should not be repeated in mixed company!); “Ace” Edwards, who force-fed me with sufficient “O” level Greek to ensure success by a hair’s breadth and an English teacher, rather eccentric (Not out of place then….!) whose name eludes me, but who used to thump the living daylights out of the piano in the Hall at lunchtimes.

  3. William Raymond Griffiths Says:

    Two more memorable members of staff, late 40s/early fifties:
    Larry Stephens, ex RN, Maths, inter alia. Catchphrase:-
    “The ‘bound to be’ boys will fail!!!”

    Jack Haig, Geography – moved on to Caerleon Training College

  4. mattwarrell.com Says:

    I really like the images! As a professional photographer I know it can be tough to choose the right ones although these are fantastic.

    I prefer a number of Lightroom presets to help keep some consistency with
    my own.

  5. M.J.Puffett Says:

    Very nostalgic. I was in 7science in 1954. I was inspired by Ma Mosely to become a biology teacher. A great school of its day.

  6. david meacham Says:

    Thanks for the remiscences.I Will add a few unreliable memoirs
    I began at west Mon in 2a in 1953 and thanks to a few excellent teachers such as
    shoni price in a sea of psychopaths I eventually became a professor in Australia.
    the school of hard knocks made a man of me and gave me lifelong love of learning and rugby.
    I can recollect from experience or hearsay : Taylor burning our. English books in the quad As he thought they were communist, hanging someone out of the window for talking ,Harris twisting ears and slapping faces

  7. Geoff Thomas Says:

    I don’t suppose the David Meacham in the previous post is the same person who I attended West Mon with and afterwards attended St Mary’s in London while I went to Imperial College. Send me an email at:- geoff_rmt@yahoo.com
    I have lived in California for 45 years and would like to catch up…
    Geoff Thomas

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