Posts Tagged ‘pen pals in Germany’

West Mon memories from Australia

June 7, 2013

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.