I love this photo of class 3, Dinas Primary School c 1953, and can give you the names of everyone in the class, including the four children who were absent on the day.
Back row, from the left: David Stephens, Ken Davies, James Davies, Walter Mathias, John Spedding.
Middle row, from the left: Keith Thomas, Brian Williams, John Harries, John Williams, Mr D T Lewis (form master).
Front row, from the left: Grace Williams, Jeanette Lewis, Janice Davies, Pat Owen, Sylvia Harries, Mair Davies.
In the same class but missing from the photo: Margaret Rowlands, Mefus Williams, Ann Richards, Audrey Williams.
Interestingly, the majority of these children have stayed within five miles of Dinas for most of their adult lives. Three moved to Haverfordwest (20 miles away) and, as far as I know, only one has moved out of Wales to England.
This little class produced at least two athletes, one of whom represented Wales in the Commonwealth Games and the other played for Llanelli RFC, at least five teachers, a mechanic, a builder, two bankers, a railway worker, a pub landlady and a gifted musician. And, in spite of diligent enquiry, there are still some of these pupils that I know nothing about.
What makes this photo special for me are the shadowy figures from the Infants class, looking out of the window at the photographer in the playground. There, in the middle, is Miss Mary Perkins who had been at the school so long that she had probably taught the parents of most of the children in the picture. On her right is Janet Willoughby (whose English name can be explained by the fact that her family arrived in Dinas, having fled the floods in the East of England) and on her left is Bobby Smith, whose mother ran the booking for the village tennis court until recently.
Were you in Dinas Primary school in the 1950s? Can you share any of your memories. I’d love to hear from you.
I remember some of those in my primary school days, but not all.
Unlike yourself, I seem to remember there was a fluctuating 30+ pupils in each classroom.
Some of the teachers I recall being as like manic sheep dogs with rabies and the pupils trying hard to stay out of the grip of the mouths and sharp teeth (me included).
I can share that the children of the doctor were the ones put as stars in the Christmas play, never seem to be told off, never ignored and always praised. I wonder what they are doing now? I know that those I thought would be very successful are now plodding along in boring jobs.
Thankfully I developed later to masters degree level, regardless of the time spent sitting on the benches in the cloakroom learning nothing, but patience, all those years ago.
Well done! I don’t think that school suits everyone and some people would learn much faster if the teachers could deal with pupils as individuals rather than as constituent elements of a hostile crowd.
Walter Mathias writes:
As far as I am aware, Mary Perkins spent her life in Dinas. She used to teach the class through the medium of Welsh and made no concession to pupils from English households ! When showing my dad and me around the signal box on Goodwick (small station), Mr Willoughby made mention that his daughter Janet – the little girl in the picture, was a fluent Welsh speaker after three months. Brother David who went into the senior form was less fortunate as the teaching was all in English.
Miss P had a really lovely face and was kindness itself. She was a small petite lady whose skin was as white and smooth in old age as it must have been in her youth and she seldom lost her temper. That said, my principle memory is of playing with plasticine in her class and being taught Welsh poetry for auditioning before Mr.Gerwin Stephens who would select two representatives from the school to attend competition at the local Urdd Eisteddfod. Grace Williams and I were the two selected most years and fortunately, she was more successful in competition than I was. I really used to get nervous about performing in front of a large gathering of proud parents (a full church hall in Fishguard for the first round) and that angst has never left me about performing in public.
Miss P lived with her aunt Miss Polly Harries in ‘Dolwar’, (the second house on the left as you pass the Freemasons driving to Newport). She was small and round and ancient in my youth, with a beatific face and contented demeanour but how exactly she was related to Miss P, I have no idea. I was always invited into the house and referred to her as Aunty Polly. I don’t ever recall either of them in Tabor, so their remains are probably in Brynhenllan’s Churchyard or Gideon’s.
Yes, they are in Ramah cemetery.
It’s almost spookily like the photo I have from the same year or perhaps 1954 at Cwmdu school in Breconshire, only in that case the group represents the whole school (c. 40 pupils aged 4-11) plus the head teacher Mr Davies and assistant Mrs Thomas.(And yes I can remember most of the names.) The NHS specs, the hairslides and the knitted cardies are just the same (although uniquely for a girl I wore only shorts or trousers). Although it was not a bilingual area Mr Davies, a Cardie by birth, taught us all the basics of Welsh and was proud of that fact.
I remember my primary school shoes (It’s a pity we can’t see the girls’ shoes in this photo). In summer I had sandals with white crepe soles that used to get distressingly grey after their first day on the road. In winter it was heavy black lace-ups. Their first outing would have me walking stiff-legged for the mile to school so as not to crease the fronts.