Newton Church Room Renovation Project
Memories of my School Days by Winnie Reece
WINNIE REECE - Memories of my school days.
Did your Parents go to Newton?
My great grand mother was Jane Watkins of Fair Oak and she married Samuel Jenkins and they lived at the Kellin. The Watkins of Fair Oak lived at Quarrelly too before my grand father’s time. Several of the Watkins have come to Quarrelly and Fair Oak from the USA searching for their roots. I am also in touch with the Hereford relatives. Father went to Canada, came back to the Kellin. Quarrelly was rented from the Marquis of Abergavenny. He would have gone to Newton School, but didn't talk about his school days.
Mr. Powell [see photo] from Lower Newton took Quarrelly farming over, as my father had no interest in working the farm. During the war years the fields were ploughed up and if farmers didn't comply they were turned out of their farms. They only had three days notice.
See also a photo of Henry Watkins combining for Mr. Powell.
When did you go to school?
I started at five and went till I was 13. I didn't pass for Grammar, so I didn't go to the High School. There was a class at Ledbury called The Remove, it would be just after the war and they wanted teachers; and I passed a scholarship for 13-15 year olds and went to Ledbury Grammar School. They did School Certificate which I passed. Four years instead of five.
I was at Newton School till 13 years. I remember Miss Willetts the teacher she was an excellent teacher. She was strict. I remember Mr. Tovey who she was courting. He was the attendance officer. He would come to check any truancy; it was unheard of in those days. He always stayed a long time. They did eventually marry. There are still Tovey relations in Ewyas Harold.
I can remember National Savings, we use to save and we were invited to tea with Miss Willetts. We use to do knitting, Balaclavas, during the war, and baby clothes and all kinds of things for the war effort. The more responsible children, those that had done well were invited to tea as a treat.
Was she Head teacher?
Yes, and I can remember Percy Powell's sister she taught the infants, she was unqualified at the time. They divided the big room in two. I can remember the evacuees, cause sometime we would go to school in the morning or in the afternoon and sometimes every other day. A split system because of the number of children.
Did your make any friends of the evacuees?
O yes I had a special friend but didn't keep in touch after she went back.
I was over 5 when I started school and there till I was 13; that was before it closed. It closed in 1961.
Everyone had to walk to school, I remember children walking past the house from Lower Maescoed, there's a stile at the top of the garden. There was a well-worn path across the pastures and it came out opposite the school, they wouldn't walk along the road. Its still a right of way but not used so much now. John Reece remembers seeing Mrs. Price bowling Ann upon the seat of her bike up to school and then riding the bike home. Everyone walked to school.
Do you remember any of the lessons you had at school?
I remember going early to school and putting out the books, The older girls you know. And I can remember helping someone out with their sums. You use to help out those who weren't too bright I can remember that.
Can you remember any outings? Walking in the fields to study natural history?
No. No I can't remember that. We use to play in the top pasture, Yes we always use to play there, there was quite a lot of fern there in those days. Quarrelly used to be covered with quite a lot of fern that's how it was ploughed during the war and got rid of a lot of it. Planted potatoes.
Did you have any games activities in the school?
I can remember country dancing and I really enjoyed it. I remember there's a boy you didn't like and there's one you really, really liked, Gordon Bufton everybody liked him. Everybody made a grab to get him. I never did get him, so I got cute after awhile. There was another boy; a nice boy Jim Pritchard's brother, John and I use to grab him before the one I didn't like came for me. I use to like the country dancing.
That was in the school?
Yes, in the big room I think
Did you have anytime off school? For illness? or to help on farm?
No, My father didn't farm. No. I think I went to school pretty conscientiously.
Do you remember anything about the area at the time? Did sales people go round?
Mr. and Mrs. Cook who lived at the top of the Slough, I found her photograph on one of the glass plates. I remember how she used go around houses with a big basket of goods, tea cloths, aprons, knickers, selling them. I expect they used to go round in a pony and trap. Mrs. Cook also got up a lorry and we all used to go, women and children, to Welton Court, Madley, picking fruit. I remember seeing Airmen there too picking fruit as there was an aerodrome there. We used to pick hops too. There was a jam factory there too, I think it was Hartley’s jam, at Welton Court, blackcurrants, plums, I cannot remember the others. I can see Mrs. Cook now standing on the door step. It was great fun picking fruit and the money was very good.
Was the shop still going?
Yes. I do remember the shop. We did walk to the shop and to the Post
Office. The Post Office was at the comer house. The shop had given up a long time before Newton Post Office. Newton Shop must have given up when I was fairly young. I should think it must have given up when I was 6 no may be 12, I can't remember. Gladys may know. I should think it gave up in the forties, after the war? I can remember going to the shop for blocks of butter. I can remember pushing the pram to the Post Office.
Did it sell everything?
No only a few sweets.
There was no water and no electricity? It wasn't in the area till 1963.
No we had calor gas and we had the Tilley lamps and Aladdin. We had a calor gas stove and a calor gas boiler. When I was about 12 I can remember going down to Longtown on my bike and fetching an accumulator, you know what I mean to run the wireless. It would be full of acid. How could I do that in those days? I can remember when I was coming back across the yard one day it fell and broke and I remember I had a really nice dress and the acid burnt holes in the dress. I'd be about 13.
I remember going down to Newton Post Office I was always parched coming back and desperate for a drink There's a stile halfway up the pitch to the church and I remember climbing over and taking a drink from the brook. Anyway I'm still here, so it didn't do me any harm.
We use to walk to the Black Mountains, a gang of us, we'd be about 12 or 13. There is a lane from Longtown before you get to the shop. We would go up there and then across some fields, there'd be half a dozen of us and we would climb the Black Mountains. It was always so hot and such a climb. It would be in the summer months. We'd have a great time up there.
I can remember having races in the Price's field I think that was to do with the school.
There were socials at the school; Woody Cole would be able to tell you about them. I seem to remember we played games?
Mr. Powell at Quarrelly Farm
Henry Watkins Combining at Quarrelly Farm
[Winnie Reece talking to Marion Charnock at Quarrelly Farm on Monday 6th January 2003]