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News > Updates from our ONs > A very old Old Boy

A very old Old Boy

ON Eric Jones, who left in 1942, has shared his memories of Adams during his time here.

A very old Old Boy

I started at Newport Grammar School in 1938 having won a scholarship. My Father was a farm worker on a very low wage. Without the scholarship I would not have been able to attend. It meant that all my books were paid for, help with school uniform and a railway season ticket enabling me to travel to Newport from Donnington free of charge.

The Headmaster at that time was William Samuel Brooks. He was always referred to by the boys as Sam.

 I have seen a newspaper report of an incident just before my time when the father of a boy who had been caned sued The Headmaster (I think it was Sam) on behalf of his son for assault. The Headmaster was found not guilty

Other teachers I remember include

Mr T A Dyke (Tad) Mr Dyke suffered from being gassed in WW 1

Mr. Harman                                            ?

Mr Patrick Taylor (Pat)                   Maths & woodwork

Mr Robinson                                     Chemistry

Mr Ibbotson                                      French

Mr Bradburn                               English

Mr Jessop                                    Geography

Mr A W C Johnson                      Science, Biology and sports

Mr Standing                                     History

Mr Eric Clift                                     Music

The School was divided into five houses named after the housemasters. Adams House consisted entirely of those who boarded. The others were Dyke House, Taylor House, Robinson House and Harman House.

The School caretaker was Mr Weston. He also ran the tuck shop.

Sam was always very keen to impress upon us that we were the school's ambassadors, particularly when we were out and about wearing School uniform. If he was aware of a boy or boys not behaving up to standard they would be punished. He did use a cane but not too much as I recollect.

1939 of course brought another war with Germany and I recall that very soon Mr Bradburn, Mr Jessop and Mr Clift were called to serve in the armed forces.

In 1940 because of German air raids or the threatening of such, the school had to make way for an evacuated school from Smethwick. I think it was called Holly Lodge. They wore Yellow and Black Uniform and consequently were referred to as Wasps or Wazzers. The whole School was billeted  with local families.  A G S held school from 8am until 1pm and Holly Lodge were there from 1pm until 6pm. For me and my local friends, it meant getting up an hour earlier to catch a train at 7-15pm.  At 1pm, there was no train available and no bus service, consequently we had to walk home. It was about 4 miles. Sometimes we would hitch hike, much to Sam's horror. There was a memorable occasion when we had a ride in a Sentinel steam Waggon which had been varying tar. Despite my efforts to avoid it there were a number of Tar spots on my uniform jacket and trousers. Mother was very angry.

Very early on in the war years, a squadron of The Air Training Corps was established in The School. We were trained in Aircraft recognition so that we knew that it was one of ours or one of theirs. Other subjects were Morse code and navigation.

Sport was encouraged which suited me fine. The sports field was near the bottom of Audley Avenue.

I particularly enjoyed the rugby and was lucky enough to play for The School team on a number of occasions. Being on the slim side I carried little weight but I was fast and always held the position out on the wing.

After the fifth form in 1942, I wanted to leave school. My parents were stretched to provide funding, so they did not object very much. Despite pleas by Mr Brooks who wrote to my parents saying that if I stayed I would go on to university, I left in The summer of 1942 with a few School certificates to my name. Of course there was a war on and employment was easy to find as many men had been conscripted.

It was probably the wrong thing to do. and there have been times when I wished that I had stayed on. Nevertheless I have always benefitted from my learnings at A G S

I wonder if there are any of my time still around. They will be, like me,  in their mid-ninety's.

Eric Jones

ON 1938 - 1942

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