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Private Collection




Newton Church Room Renovation Project


Memories of my School Days by Joan Davies

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When did you go to Newton School?

I went to Newton School from 1941 to 1947.

Where did you live and who with?

I lived at Woodlands Farm with my father and mother. We had a workman living in, first Trevor Smith and then Cyril Lewis. In 1941, with the arrival of the evacuees from BootIe, Liverpool, we also had Winifred Rafferty, (a little girl my age, who could sleep with me) Chris Mann (a thirteen year old boy who could sleep with Trevor) and in our sitting room Mavis and her mother, who had come from Kent to escape the bombing in SE England. Mavis' father was an R.A.F. pilot, who came on " leave" . The paraffin stove with cooker on top was shared by the mothers in the back kitchen for cooking. (No bathrooms in those days just an outside privy!). In 1944 my sister Ruth was born and that was when Dad bought the car.

Who was your teacher?

My infant teacher was Miss Dorothy Powell and Miss Willets was the head teacher. Miss Willets, married the attendance officer, Mr Tovey (a romance we took great interest in!).and she was followed by a succession of short stay and supply teachers the last one, for me, being Mrs. Crowte (whose husband was headmaster at Longtown). Miss Mary Cole taught a " middle" class in the Big Room, with the head teacher.

How did you go to school?

I walked the one mile, passed the church, with my satchel and gas mask crossed over my body. When I was ten I was allowed to ride my new 'bike’ to school.

What did you do through your school day?

Infant days were spent doing 'sums', writing, chanting letters and their phonic sounds, chanting tables, listening to stories, drawing and colouring, using plasticene and lots of rhymes and singing.
Junior days involved more of the same with sewing, games and folk singing. Miss Powell was very musical and encouraged us to take part in Eisteddfodau (the Competitive Meeting at Lower Maescoed Chapel on Easter Monday was transferred to Newton School in my days) and Talent Shows. We were very proud of our achievements and won a cup and banner in competitions for the surrounding parishes at Ewyas Harold.

What did you have for lunch?

Sandwiches and cake but I cannot remember any drink, except cold water from the pump. I can only remember wearing a gym-slip, with three pleats back and front, with various blouses and jumpers. I think most children wore vests and liberty bodices - I certainly did. This winceyette garment, to keep you warm in Winter, seems to have vanished because our houses are now warmer. We had to wear wellingtons on wet days and take our shoes with us.

Did you have any jobs to do before and after school?

After school I had to collect morning wood for next mornings fire and on Saturday there were routine jobs such as blacking the kitchen range, brick-dusting and shining the fender, scrubbing the flagstone floors on hands and knees and dusting! More small dry wood had to be ready for Monday morning and " Wash day" , when the copper was filled from the tap with buckets of water and the fire lit underneath to warm the water. We had a little wash house in the back yard and my mother used a tin bath with a scrubbing board and soap to rub the really dirty clothes before rinsing them three times. The 'whites' were boiled first in the copper and dirtier clothes last.

Can you remember any local events or anything else about your schooldays?

Memories of school days not in any particular order:-
The evacuees arriving in wooden seated buses and spilling out at the Church room, most with very few belongings.
The huge number of children going up the road to school with their strange sounding teachers and their red-painted nails.
My mother being horrified when we all got head-lice. I remember having to endure foul smelling shampoo and the 'nit-comb'.
Lessons squashed into cloakrooms.
Half-day lessons.
Nature walking when there was no accommodation for our class and the 'grumbles' when we got soaked from the parents.
Fields near the school being used for 'maneuvers' by the army and air force. Later some Yanks arrived and gave us gum.
Running for our lives home from school when rumour spread that the Germans had come.
Gas mask drill. Ten minutes sitting with wretched thing on and then being so hot and wet when you took it off. Nine months later an extra piece was added on the end, which made it even heavier.
The rough and tumble of trying to play with the evacuees.
Weighing and bagging turnips at night using a very shaded hurricane lamp, for the POW. camp at Peterchurch.
The blackout curtains.
Filling inkwells with ink, from an old brown teapot. Some boys practiced the art of flicking ink around.
Children skating, across the road, on Mr Gundy's pond.
Throwing water on the yard, when it was freezing, to make a slide. I always fell over.
Older girls going to Michaelchurch for cooking lessons. The older boys from Michaelchurch came to the woodwork shed in the boy’s yard for woodwork lessons with Mr Ivor Jones.
Playing down the 'pasture’. High fern to make dens and play hide and seek. The big boys played Fox and Hounds and sometimes did not arrive back until it was nearly time for home.
Two ponds in the pasture, one had lots of tree’s roots and this was ideal for games of 'catch'.
Dennis Christopher, who suffered with asthma ,falling out of a tree into the " stinky" pond and all the little girls covering him with wild flowers to have a funeral.
Socials at the school to raise money to have celebrations to welcome home the troops. I especially liked the girl from Abergavenny, who tap-danced bringing her own boards with her.
Parading with my doll's pram, decorated in red, white and blue, in the carnival procession.
The refreshments served up in the little room at Socials and Whist drives.
The card schools who played Knap, behind the door in the little room.
Mr Dick Jenkins taking our photograph and running backwards and forwards to arrange his picture.
Unable to go to school from January until March - 8 weeks - in 1947 because of deep snow, when everything came to a standstill. Miss Loadman - a teacher - was lodging with us and she walked home to The Vicarage, Lllanveynoe after the first week of dreadful snow and frost.
My 11 + examination being postponed twice, first because of snow and secondly because Hereford was flooded. Eventually we sat the exam in May.


Dorothy Joan Davies (Maiden name, Williams) talking January 2003

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