Leslie Edwards

Rhos Street School Memories 1945 - 1952

The second world war ended in the same year that I first attended the infant school at Rhos Street - 1945.

The building, a large edifice of dressed limestone, was divided internally to house both juniors and infants, effectively run as separate schools. The playground was also divided by a large wall - there was no grass field then.

In this wall was a gate through which we could see the older children playing 'grown-up' - or rougher - games such as football! Goals were drawn in chalk on the playground walls. The gate also provided access for the occasional formal interaction or celebration, which might have been religious or patriotic in nature.

The infants' school was divided into one large room - occupied by the Headmistress, Miss Evans - and a much smaller room with Miss Roberts.(picture). Which class you were in depended on your first language, Miss Evans teaching the Welsh speakers. Both teachers were experienced, maybe in their mid-40s, and could have been at the school since the 1920s. They were both very kindly, but administered discipline when necessary - Miss Evans could wield the stick with vigour.

The school reflected the austere social and economic conditions of the post-war period. The intake was largely from the families on the east side of Ruthin, and mostly from the old ecclesiastical parish of LLanrhydd. Pupils to the west of St. Peter's Square mostly attended the other school now known as Borthyn. One estate, Canol y Dre, straddled both areas, and these families were offered a choice of school. Few parents had a car, so pupils almost exclusively walked to school.

Children from a wide range of social backgrounds attended he school, including several from the County Children's Home at Heulfre (subsequently housing the police headquarters, then an old people's home, and now a dormitory for Ruthin School). Class photographs of the period reveal a poor standard of clothing, reflecting national shortages and low family incomes. Rationing of foodstuffs and materials was till imposed, though this had the unintended benefit of preserving the health of children's teeth and prevented them becoming overweight, diets being based on starchy foods.

School dinners, cooked on the premises, were generally dire, and even then this was recognised by the pupils, though the ubiquitous overcooked and over-salted cabbage was also regular home fare for many. Its contribution to the prevailing odour of the classrooms is an abiding memory! The smell of the uniquely grim gravy which provided the meals with a semblance of flavour has remained with me for life.

To compensate for the low nutritional value, pupils were provided with a daily ration of Cod Liver Oil, made more palatable by a spoonful of malt., There was also the provision of a one-third-pint bottle of very dilute orange juice, eventually replaced by milk.

Classes in the 'big' school were taught mainly in English, though there were some lessons in Welsh. The teachers were: Miss Dilys Jones (Standard 1), Anne Jame (Standard 2) and Miss Davies (Standard 3). All three teachers are to be seen in the 1947 photograph of the whole school, alongside the Mayor of Ruthin.