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Newton Church Room Renovation Project


Memories of my School Days by Valerie Smith

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My name is Valerie Smith (nee Smith). I lived at Sunnybank, Newton and walked to school.

I was at Newton school from Easter 1950 - 1956, but during the early years I was not allowed to attend school on medical grounds. The school doctor discovered I had a heart murmur. My education suffered due to the couple of years enforced rest at home.

My first memory was the Christmas party 194; there was a large Christmas tree in the small classroom and lots of presents. I was given a Gollywog which I treasured for years.

The teachers were Mrs. Van Kaye? who lived in the school house and Miss Margaret Smith, a cousin, who attended school with my sister Dorothy.

For my 8th birthday, Miss Smith gave me a satin handkerchief case which I still use today.

I wore blouses, skirts and jumpers in the winter whilst in the summer I wore dresses.

In class we did reading, spelling, writing, arithmetic, sewing, knitting and painting. We had to mix the paint by adding water to coloured powder. We also mixed the ink for the desk fitted ink- wells.

Rounders were played in the field opposite, ball games including netball played in the playground which also housed a climbing frame.

The subjects I enjoyed were arithmetic, sewing, knitting and games.

Corporal punishment included the ruler for the pupils in the small classroom and the cane for pupils in the big classroom. I had the cane twice!

In summer I took sandwiches and squash. In winter I had hot meals, these were delivered daily to the school kitchen. Gladys Watkins worked in the kitchen; pupils had to set tables and clean up afterwards. Their reward was to receive sweet cigarettes or sugar mice. Fresh milk was delivered daily in 1/3 pint bottles (these used to freeze up during icy weather). Drinking water was available from the kitchen; there was a pump in the playground but we were advised not to drink from it.

There was a large coal-fired stove in each classroom and the caretaker was Mrs. Pritchard from Cae-Garw.

The toilets were housed in separate buildings away from the school, near to the road. These consisted of long wooden seats with a bucket below.
In 1953, for the coronation; there were sports and a party during which we were presented with a mug.

My cousins, the Powells, from the Maerdy, also attended Newton school.

A mobile dental unit visited the school.

Newton Methodist Sunday School had a sea-side outing each year, visiting Wales and Somerset resorts.

The village Post-Office, sweet and tobacconist was at the Comer House, managed by spinster twin sisters, Gladys and Lizzie Price.

Our local undertaker and church organist was Tom Gwillim. The grave-digger and Church Warden was my father, Arthur Smith.

The local pub was the Sun at St Margaret’s where we watched the coronation on television.

The butcher, Warren Lewis, from Longtown, called weekly and a baker/grocer from Peterchurch.

A rag and bone man, Georgie Wood, less than five-foot tall traveled round with a horse and cart selling cattle salt licks. He lived down the Slough.

Whist drives were held in the school in the winter months. Newton Eisteddfod was held annually in the school.


Mrs Valerie Smith, nee Smith, sent in this contribution January 2003

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