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A pupil of Roman Terrace School




Roman Terrace School which closed on 17th October 1986


Over the past couple of weeks I have been ill and so the research necessary to undertake the writing of the newsletter has been impossible for me.

But in an endeavour to provide you with a newsletter I thought it may be a good idea to take another look at the very first newsletter I wrote on 27th October 1992.

At the beginning of the month I was asked to go up to Highwoods School and give a short talk on what it was like to go to school in that area of Mexborough when the childrens’ grandparents were small.

I must tell you that I found this particularly difficult as this is one area of Mexborough that I had not studied at all, as the Wath Road, Roman Terrace, and Highwoods areas haven’t always been part of Mexborough but at one time were divided between Swinton, Adwick-on-Dearne and Mexborough.

But at long last I managed to find someone of the age I was looking for who could tell me exactly what it was like as she went to school at the old Roman Terrace School and I have enclose for your reading this month what she was able to tell  me.

Some things I must admit surprised me such as Sir Alan Cobham and his Flying Circus and the Pony Races. You will find that her name is not included as she wishes to remain anonymous.

Her grandfather, Mr. Smith, came up to live in our area from Strafford just before the turn of the Twentieth Century and became inspector of mines for this area. At first the family lived in a large farmhouse situated in Swinton close to where the Rockingham Pottery once stood and was owned by the Earl Fitzwilliam. A little while afterwards her father met with a Mexborough man who was a builder, his name was Mr. Seagraves and between them a number of houses were built on Highwoods Road, one providing the money while the other provided the labour. Two larger houses were constructed at the same time, these being situated on Wath Road, a short distance from ‘The Roman’ Public House. In one of these lived Mr. Smith and the other Mr. Seagraves.


Before she was born her father was involved in a serious accident down the pit, where two iron coal tubs ran away, resulting in her father being crushed under them, he was taken straight to Mexborough Montagu Cottage Hospital, but was found to be too seriously injured to be treated there, and was therefore transferred to the then newly opened Montagu Hospital where he underwent an emergency operation to have his whole hip joint removed and replaced with a gold one, and therefore became both one of the first people to have a replacement hip and also to be treated at Mexborough Montagu Hospital.

Following his accident her father could no longer work, and as there was no welfare state they found they could no longer pay their rent and went to live with her grandparents on Wath Road, and this is how she came to be born in Highwoods and how she later went on to attend Roman Terrace School.

She started school in 1922 when she was five years old, and her teacher at that time was Mrs. Hudson. She can remember that a few years before she started school girls had to pay, and were given a payment book into which was written at the start of every week the amount that had been paid, one shilling (5p) to one shilling and sixpence (7p) seems to be the amount remembered. This does not seem like a lot of money today, but at that time a three bedroom terraced villa could be rented for one and sixpence which approximates to £150 today. But boys, of course, were taught free. All this was in the past, when she started school, with the exception of those attending the National School, later to become St. John the Baptist School, all those attending this school still had to pay a fee.

She remembers in particular the ‘Play Times’, when children of the poorer families would line up in the Cloak Room and were given a mug of milk and a biscuit. This sounds very nice but in reality, she says, it was terrible as the milk was like baby milk made by putting so much dried milk into a mug and then mixing it with water, they would then be given a large flat biscuit something like a dog biscuit. She can also remember that when she went to Dolcliffe Road School the poorer children were also given Cod Liver Oil in addition to their milk and biscuit.

She remembers too the School Bobby who came to you house if you were away from school, and if there was nothing wrong with you your parents would have to pay a fine.

The summers were the best, when the fields where the Fire Station now stands was rented by Sir Alan Cobham, and he would bring his Flying Circus for the day and you could watch the Dare Devils Wing Walking Team, and he would do all sorts of stunts with his Biplanes or take you for a ride in one of his planes for two shillings (10p).

The summers too were the time of the pit holidays locally known as ‘Pit Week’ when both the miners and the pit ponies had a break from the usual drudge of work. One of the events which took place on this particular week in the year was the annual Pit Pony Races which as the field where the Fire Station now stands was a large flat one was ideal for the purpose and ponies were brought from far and wide to compete.

The games the children played used to be ruled by the seasons. The girls would play Snobs, and Whip & Top which began at Easter, whereas Shuttlecock and Battledoor began to be played on Pancake Day. Hopscotch and Skipping where played in the summertime, and then there was Conkers in the autumn.

In addition to some of these the boys would have different games such as Finger, Thumb, or Dumb. Then there was the collecting of Cigarette Cards, plus Marbles (Ringy or Gutters), and for the older boys Peggy, Knur & Spell, or Backyard Cricket.

In those days they did not have such long school holidays. At Christmas the holidays did not start until Christmas Eve, when the school Christmas Party took place and she remembers vividly receiving a thimble as a present. But before the party, don’t forget, they had to spend weeks making paper chains and party hats out of Crepe Paper. Then after the party was over they could take the decorations down and take them home with them to decorate their own homes.

Then, when the Spring came, it was time for their annual trip to Old Denaby Woods, where they would pick a load of Bluebells, and then when they got them back to school they would have a painting lesson. She also remembered the teachers favourites who were chosen to do special jobs such as giving out the milk, the books, or fill up the ink wells, these were called monitors.

Things have certainly changed since those days. Roman Terrace School was closed on 17th October 1986 and demolished and a nursing home now sits on the site. The large flat field, where the pony races took place and Sir Alan Cobham brought his Flying Circus has also gone, to be replaced, firstly by the Drill Hall, which was converted into the Jesters Nightclub, then the Fire station was added, all long since gone. The land is soon to be the site of a new surgery which will shortly be open there, named Mexborough Integrated Healthcare Centre. I wonder what our lady, who died a number of years ago, would have thought of that?

Programme of Events for 2013/14

2013 24th September 2013

Mediaeval Medicines by Ann-Marie Holdridge
Ann-Marie, and her husband Trevor are active members of the Woodville Household Mediaeval Re-enactment Group. Tonight Marie will inform us of how illness and wounds were treated in the past, sometimes with the use of herbs and plants, some of which are used to this day.

29th October 2013
‘The Cadeby Pit Disaster’ by Barry Dalby
On Tuesday 9th & Wednesday 10th July 1912 three huge explosions ripped through the underground workings of the Cadeby Main Colliery. Two of these explosions caused 91 fatalities, 53 of whom were rescuers. Tonight Barry will tell us of that fateful day, the fight to save survivors and the inquest which followed.

26th November 2013
‘Dambuster’ Airman Roy Machin’ by Giles Brearley
Giles will give a PowerPoint Presentation and talk based on the life and war time exploits of Mexborough and Swinton's unsung hero Dambuster Rear Gunner Airman Roy Machin. He will show photos of his childhood, info concerning his enlistment into the RAF and latterly as Landlord of a Mexborough Public House

December 2013 No Meeting this month due to the Christmas Holidays

2014
28th January 2014

‘The Home Front in the Rotherham Area During the 1st WW’ by Tony Dodsworth. This talk will inform us of what it was like to live in the Rotherham area during the 1st WW while the men of the family were away at the front fighting.

25th February 2014
Grandma Abson’s Traditional Baking by Meryl White
How many of us remember the scents and smells of bread and cakes, baked by our grandmothers in her kitchen on the old Yorkshire Range? This month Meryl will take us back to those days when she shows us how to bake the traditional way, learned from her Grandma Abson. Her grandmother was a Mexborough Girl and Meryl will tell us anecdotes from her grandmother’s days spent in service as an Edwardian Cook/Housekeeper. We will then have the opportunity to sample all her traditional wares which encompass so many happy memories of a bygone age.

25th March 2014
South Yorkshire’s Industrial Heritage by Pat McLaughlin
Mexborough is in the heart of Industrial South Yorkshire and Pat, in his usual exemplary manner will give a PowerPoint Presentation and talk on the Canals, Potteries, Pits, Glassworks etc of this region.

May 2013
AGM Date to be Arranged

Talks are held at 7.15p.m. At: The Ferryboat Inn, Church Street, Mexborough.


Copyright: This newsletter may not be copied, in part or in its entirety, without the permission of J.R. Ashby