I was born on the
seventh of April in the year nineteen hundred and eleven at Tallarn
Green Post Office.
Mother, Florence, daughter of William and Martha Bennion of Fields
Farm, Willington, was one of eight children. Father, Wilfred
Jones, only child of William and Elizabeth Jones, also came of
farming stock and spent his early life on Three Fingers Farm,
Willington. My maternal grand parents retired to a cottage
at Tallarn Green; I never knew my father’s parents since
they died before I was born. Sister May came on the scene
some years later and this was the last change in the composition
of my family.
My earliest recollection of life is of a dog
and kennel at the Post Office, and later, at four years of age,
having to go to Liverpool for an operation to remove a lump from
my groin. In the spring of 1914 the family removed by Chester’s
horse drawn wagon to the Horns Farm, later renamed The Orchards,
Whitchurch Road, Bangor.
At six years I was in trouble again when I lost
the third finger of my left hand. It seems that I was helping
a young girl to cut up slabs of linseed cake for the cattle using
a hand operated machine. As I put in a slab my companion
turned the handle taking my hand into the cogs. Someone
went for the doctor at Bangor but found that he was out. Mr.
Foster of the Royal Oak, who owned a Model T Ford, then took over
but cursed the car left, right and centre when it refused to start.
After labouring hard and long with the starting handle the
engine eventually fired and he arrived at our farm and took me
to Bangor. Here I was transferred to another car conveyed
to the doctor’s surgery in Wrexham. In the meantime
a fourth person had contacted the doctor who had started out for
Bangor as I was being taken into Wrexham; apparently we passed
each other on the way. Eventually I arrived at the old infirmary
at the corner of Bradley Road where I remained receiving treatment
for five weeks and two days. When I got home I found myself
the proud possessor of a newly purchased three wheeled cycle with
solid tyres. Cars were few and far between in those days,
with the result that if one approached I would either sit petrified
on the cycle in the road and howl, or jump off into the ditch
and again howl because the cycle was in the way.
School was the next milestone and I joined the
daily cavalcade to school which was then at the back of High Street
where School Mews now stands. We started from home at about
twenty past eight in the morning to link up on the way with children
from Halghton Mill, Billy Griffith from the Pandy, Hetty Large,
Fred and Reg Betteley, Gladys Suckley and Lucy, Emma John and
Amy Woolley; at Hollybush Harry, Gwen, Ted and Jessie Huxley.
We were then joined by Emily and Jim Betteley and Maud Davies
from Raggs Hill. Our number continued to increase as George,
Elsie, Harold and May Done came from the farm followed by William
and May Spoor at Highgate and Jack, Annie, Alice, Chrissie, Gertrude
and Frances Taylor followed again by Tom, May, Jack, Ted, Wilfred
and Harold Blake from the Cloy, together with Vera, Louie, Maggie
and Linda Lewis. All in all a motley collection of youngsters
making our way noisily along the road in all weathers.
In my early schooldays we used slate, scratchy
slate pencil and duster to be replaced in time by paper, steel
pen, ink and pencil. The curriculum provided for tuition
in reading, writing and arithmetic, plus woodwork for the boys
and cookery for the girls in the Old School now the Village Hall.
Pupils numbered around one hundred and twenty. Memory
recalls Mr. Moss as Headmaster (nicknamed Johnie); Miss. Roberts
who cycled in from Wrexham and Miss. Lawrence and Miss. Twiss.
As we got older we spent part of school time working on
allotments situated on Overton Road: just before the position
of the new bridge. Here were public allotments of which
the school used ten or twelve strips. The Village Hall,
known as the Old School, was used by the boys for fortnightly
woodwork lessons, the teacher coming from outside our area. At
a different time the girls attended for cookery lessons when loose
tops were clamped on to the woodwork benches for their use. On
these occasions our numbers were augmented by children from Overton,
Penley, Worthenbury and Hanmer.
In those far off days the school could boast
no water taps or any sort of washing facility. Similarly
the toilets consisted of an outside building divide two, girls
on one side boys on the other, with a door in the middle the man
who cleared out the sewage which was removed by horse and cart
out of school hours.
When I first went to school I had my midday meal
at Mrs. Barlow’s opposite the old Lion public house on Whitchurch
Road, later a betting shop. I then moved to Mrs. Roberts
opposite the Post Office, until when older a packed lunch became
customary although frequently not eaten until afternoon playtime
as we would be too busy playing football at lunchtime.
On one occasion Don Owen and I came out of school
early and having acquired some chalk, drew a picture on the porch
door of a man urinating with the caption "Johnie" This
caused an uproar. We were apprehended on the evidence of
two small children who said they had seen us perpetrating this
foul deed. We denied responsibility but were kept standing
in line for an hour or more until our accusers seemingly became
frightened and confused and the evidence collapsed. The
staff never did establish who had carried out this dastardly crime.
Later I was in trouble again with the Woodwork Master for
sharpening my pencil with a chisel on the desk. Asked whether
I would sharpen my pencil on the furniture at home I replied;
“No”, whereupon I was asked to hold my hand out to
receive some stinging raps with a planed piece of wood specially
kept for the purpose. The cane was similarly used for punishment
purposes throughout my Schooldays.
Selective examinations took place when we reached
eleven years of age, those successful going on to Grove Park Grammar
School in Wrexham. I was not bright enough to take the exam
and so remained at Bangor School until fourteen when I left to
take up work on our farm. My recollection was of going to
Mr. Jones, the tailor, at School House, to be measured for a pair
of breeches which cost two pounds.
I can recall receiving only one school prize
and that for being adjudged to be the most manly boy in the school.
On one occasion when not very old I went with father by train
to the March Fair at Wrexham. Coconut shies offered four
balls for six old pence. Apparently my tally was four coconuts
won with four balls. We then missed the train home and began
to walk; fortunately Philip and George Humphreys had started a
taxi service and we were lucky to have a lift from Kings Mills.