The “Gas School.”

Many people will remember the “Gas School”, because, although it closed to pupils in 1966, it wasn’t demolished until 1986.  It stood on Wellington Road and was correctly named St. John’s Church School (originally Wellington Road National School).  It was affectionately called the “Gas School” and “Gas College” due to its proximity to the gas works.

In May 1872, Mrs Jones of “Olinda Villa ” (now Bradshaw Lodge, Chester Street), laid the foundation stone.

gas school 1

The following extract is from “St. John’s Church, Rhyl – A Centenary History” by John Gordon Sutherland B.A., a former Chairman of Rhyl History Club.

“Mrs Jones and her brother Robert Wynne came to live in Rhyl’s new fashionable quarter in 1860.  Previously they had for many years lived in the town of Olinda, a suburb of the large port of Pernambuco, now Recife, on the coast of Brazil.  Olinda is Portuguese for “O Beautiful”, and on returning to their native country, brother and sister named home “Olinda”, remembering the brilliant white palm studded tropical sands six thousand miles away in the new world country where Captain Robert Wynne once had much business.

The new Wellington Road School, which in the late 1880’s became St. John’s Church School, admitted its first unwilling pupils in October 1872.  The building was from the outset, however, also used as a Church by a congregation comprising mainly fisherfolk and agricultural labourers and their families living in the vicinity of of the Foryd (Sea-Ford) near the mouth of the River Clwyd.  In the early 1870’s the original settlement of Foryd still retained an entirely separate identity from the rapidly developing health resort of Rhyl, over a mile to the east.”

gas school 2

The school log book 1872-1905 is available to view at Flintshire Records Office and makes interesting, sometimes funny and often poignant reading.  Attendance was remarked upon in almost every entry, often described as “poor” and “disappointing” but occasionally “improving” and once or twice “good”.

Here is an entry from Friday, October 8th, 1875:  “Average for the week, 27.  The Rev. Ll. Nicholas visited school on Wednesday and Friday, many of the children play truant but I find the parents are a great deal to blame.”

Monday June 19th, 1876:  ” Poor attendance this morning.  the children assembled in the afternoon but so many were away at a circus that the registers were not marked and the children were dismissed at three o’clock.”

Many reasons were given for the disappointing attendance, colds, measles, whooping cough, typhus fever, wet weather, stormy weather, bad weather, girls being required “at home”, boys working in the town as part of the summer season etc.

March 19th, 1878:  ” Her Majesty’s Inspectors report received March 2nd.  This school has improved very much indeed since the last examination in attainments and in numbers also.  The sewing and knitting were good.  Miss Horncastle is a good teacher.”

April 15-18th, 1878:   “Good attendance.  Major Penn visited the school and gave 10/- to be divided among those children who had attended most regularly since the commencement of the quarter.”

June 28th , 1886:  “Attendance very fair, 3 children have left for the Vale Road British School because they give prizes.”

At the end of the book, in 1905, attendance was up to 87.

Rhyl History Club member, Mr Richard Evans has written his memories of his time at St. John’s from the late 1940’s:

“As a child just after Victory in Europe Day (May 1945) the School Building appeared massive and secure, the day to day maintenance being the responsibility of the caretaker, whose house was incorporated into the School Building.  After prayers each morning the Hall was partitioned off into two rooms, the larger being Miss Tegwen Batten-Jones’s class.  She had the unenviable task of introducing we printers to the art of real writing.  In the Headmaster’s class I was prepared for the scholarship examination, which I subsequently passed.  At the time Mr. Gwilym Thomas had succeeded Mr Frank Port as headmaster.  (Both these Headmasters were organists at St. John’s Church).  My recollections of Mr. Thomas are of a large, jolly man who set us reading from the Romany series of books and who extolled the incomparable beauties of the Vale of Clwyd.

Each classroom was heated by an open coal fire apart from one which boasted a cast iron coke burning stove around which were stacked the one third pint bottles of school milk to defreeze during the Winter of 1947-8.  Since St. John’s did not have a canteen we were marched to Warren Road Chapel Vestry where we joined forces with the pupils of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic School to be fed.  Being small schools it was necessary for us to combine our talents to take on the giants of Christ Church or Trellewelyn at football in the School league at the Coronation Gardens.

Despite its difficulties St. John’s School was for me a homely and happy place, staffed by truly committed teachers.”

St. John’s School closed in 1966 and its pupils were transferred to Christ Church School.

gas school 3

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7 Comments

Filed under Buildings/Location, Memories

7 responses to “The “Gas School.”

  1. How fantastic ,to see the photo of St.Johns School.I was at this school,from the age of 7,till 10 years of age.Is ther any way I can get photos of the school and the pupils?I live in Wallsend.Tyne and Wear now,but I would love to get these photos.Thank you Best regards Marie Roberts Miss

  2. Please see the post “Gas Mark 2” for another photograph.

  3. Sue Malings

    My dad, Fred Malings attended the Gas School. He was born in 1912 and I underetand left school at the age of 14. I was wondering if there is anywhere I can find more details of his schooling. He lost a foot due to an accident at work (so I believe), worked on the Marine Lake Fair where he met my mom (on convalensence from Birmingham). We spent all our hols. in Rhyl with
    dad’s sisters, first in Warren Road and then Meredith Crescent when they moved. Would love to know if anyone knows of the Malings family. Uncle Sam was a member of the Rhyl Hockey Team, sadly he died around 1932 at a very young age. He had only been married about a month.

    • Hi Sue, you may get more information (e.g from school log books) from the Flintshire Records Office in Hawarden. Tel: 01244 532364. My Mum’s cousin was a friend of Doris Malings, any relation?

      • Sue Malings

        Aunty Doris was my dad’s sister. I remember her very well. She never married, lived with aunties Freda and Dora. I understand she worked in Coventry during the war on ammunitions. There was also Uncle Roy who lived with them. He was the son of another sister.

        I will definately contact the record office. Dad never spoke about his early life before he married and moved to Birmingham so I would like to know something. The Malings family had lived in Rhyl since the mid-1800’s when great Grandad retired from the Army.

  4. hi i was born down the gas (Stanmore Street moved to MillBank when i was one, my brothers and sisters Millie, Beryl, Ken and John went there. I started in 1934.first to miss evans, miss battern jones and then mr ports class i spent more time down the gas with nannie Smith,the alcocks old auntie Mare lots of uncles and aunties every one knew us if you like to hear more let me know ellie threlfall nee williams ps my dad was Jack the fish and in the merchant navy during the war

  5. David tomkinson

    I was born in 1965 and went to gas works school so it cannot have closed in 1966

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