Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Welcome and Index

Hello and welcome to this blog about The former City of Coventry boarding school at Cleobury Mortimer, also known as Wyre Farm Camp School. The former school is of course now known as the Pioneer Centre.  The school is part of a wider social history of camp schools created in 1939 by the National Camps Corporation (NCC) and was one of 50 proposed and 39 actual Camp schools - you can read more on the post about National camp schools.

This post will ride on top as an intro - so scroll down for both new and older posts or - click - Index 

INDEX TO POSTS - The reason I've moved the index is that the list was getting a bit big - it now has its own page. I've arranged all the posts into categories to make material easier to find. i suggest you open the index in a separate tab so you can move between pages more easily. (The Newest posts are also in the sidebar).

The discussion has been going on via 2 Facebook pages - I Survived Wyre Farm School (the school's original name) and on City of Coventry School. Memories have been used, interestingly, to re-explore the area, look into aspects of local history and geography and how the area and the school has changed over the years. Stand alone pages in the tabs Above - About - School Photos - List of Pupils 64 -66 etc.

Bookmark this site then it's easy to find.
CONTRIBUTIONS - of Thoughts / Photos or Information  can be sent to us via e mail at  wyrefarmed@gmail.com

NEW WYREFARM PHOTO BLOG - I've created a new blog just for the relevant photos of the school without all the blurb (except necessary annotations). It's new and therefore developing but will group together all the photos of the school, pupils, sports, staff, area. Link is http://wyrefarmphotos.blogspot.co.uk/

The Webbs c 1957 

Charles Joyce c 1967 (Note the Coat of Arms design changed!)

Lauri Lindsay c 1968


The Value of the Site
Some times our memories don't match the facts identically. The internet has united us geographically and provided the means to share and compare memories with pupils who may have been at the school at different times / decades. The internet has also provided the means to look things up, check facts, identify locations and find out it's history. So - far from just a nostalgic look back on our youth, there is some real learning and research going on and the building of a much bigger picture!

Trev Teasdel


Reverend David Albert Williams (DAW) - Time Line for The Frugal Minister.

Reverend David Albert Williams
From the 1964 School Photo.
Thanks to some recent research by former pupil Chaz Townley on the Facebook page "I Survived Wyre Farm Camp School", I have decided to do a new, replacement page on The Reverend David Albert Williams, who was known to pupils, unofficially, as Jack or Jackdaw.

We are now in position to give a fairly accurate and detailed timeline of his life and career, and it's interesting, for those of us who were taught by him. There is still a lot we don't know about him, such as his family background, but he was one of the long standing 'Masters' at the City of Coventry Boarding School, serving between 1961 and 1980 and this forms an outline of his life and career.

Some of the former pupils have suggested that he was a 'bomb aimer' during WW2 but so far we have found nothing to substantiate that notion. He seems to have been a Curate in Llanbadarn Fawr 1940 - 49 according to Crockford's Clerical Directory.

The Reverend David Albert Williams 1915 - 2004

1915 - David Albert Williams was born on the 23rd of February 1915 in Llanwrda, Carmarthenshire. 

Llanwrda is a village on the River Towy, in the county of Carmarthenshire in west Wales, situated some 4 miles (6.5 km) southwest of Llandovery.

1925 - DAW was 10 in 1925, the year of the Centenary of the S & D Railway,

1935 - 39 At 20 years old he seems to have studied for a BA at St. David's College, Lampeter 

The entry in Crockford's Clerical Directory is "St. D. Coll. Lamp. BA 35". 

"The University of Wales Trinity Saint David is a collegiate university operating on three main campuses in South West Wales: in Carmarthen, Lampeter, and Swansea. The university also has a fourth campus in London, England". Wikipedia
The University of Wales Trinity Saint David

1936 DAW was at St Michael's Anglican Theological College, Cardiff, Llandaff, Wales. And the entry in Crockford's Directory is "St. Mich. Coll. Llan 36".

"St Michael's College, Cardiff is an Anglican Theological college in Llandaff, Wales. The college was founded in 1892, and has been situated at its present site in Llandaff since 1904. Among its many alumni is the poet R. S. Thomas." Wikipedia
St Michael's College, Cardiff
1938  DAW becomes an Ordained Deacon. Entry in Crockford's Directory "d 38", where 'd' means "Ordained Deacon". ie An ordained minister of an order ranking below that of priest.

1939 DAW becomes an Ordained Priest. Entry in Crockford's "p 39". Although he serves as a Curate until 1949.
Chaz Townley found that - The National Register gives a "Clerk in Holy Orders" and DAW was living at 65 Wayside, Penrhos Road , Bangor M.B., Caernarvonshire, Wales. 

Chaz says "Using the British Newspaper Website found 2 references to him officiating at funerals in -  1939. Also described as a Curate.

In Crockfield's directory the entry says "C Penrhosgarnedd 38 - 40" Where C is a Curate. So it seems he was a Curate at this location in Bangor between 1938 and 1940. And also at Glanadder in Bangor,which near by.Entry in Crockford's  "Glanadder 38 - 40".

1940 - 49 - DAW was a Curate in Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth. Llanbadarn Fawr is an urbanised village in Ceredigion, Wales. It is located on the outskirts of Aberystwyth. It is here that served during WW2. In Crockford's Directory it says "C Llanbadarn Fawr St D 40-49". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Padarn%27s_Church,_Llanbadarn_Fawr

Llanbadarn Fawr Parish Church dedicated to St Padarn; the current church dates from 1257

1945 - At the end of the WW2 DAW turned 30 years old.

Rev David Albert Williams
as RAF Chaplain 1949 / 58.

1949 - 1958 RAF Chaplain. In 1949 DAW joined the RAF as a Chaplain. Crockford's confirm this "Chapl RAF 49 - 58" and the Church Times here -https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2004/10-september/gazette/deaths

We have no information as to where he was stationed but he was 34 when he signed up and 43 when he finished.

The site below gives more information as to the role of RAF Chaplain.

1958 - 59 A change of career led DAW to become an Assistant Master of King’s Rise School, Peckham Rd, Birmingham,(1958-59).

1959 - 1961 Becomes a House Master of Bourne School, Kuala Lumpur. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bourne_School and here http://www.archhistory.co.uk/taca/HarrisonBourne.html

1961 - 1980 Joins City of Coventry Boarding School as Assistant House master. Variously teaches Divinity, English, Current Affairs (1966 /7), History (after 1969). Head Librarian. (1961 - 80). 

A story has it that when he left Kuala Lumur, he met Mr Harper on the journey back who was about to take up a post at City of Cov School and suggested DAW apply too - as obviously he did! DAW was 46 when he started in 1961 and 65 when he retired in 1980.

Above photo of and by Charles Joyce.

Above photo from the School Brochure early 1960's

Some of the books we studied in English - 
Spencer Chapman - The Jungle is Neutral
Thomas Hardy - Far from the Madding Crowd.

Next two photos by Charles Joyce

Pygmalion. Macbeth

Written work / notes from Trev Teasdel from DAW's English class.

The Vocabulary Book

1980 - Retires at 65 and returns to Llanwrda. Preached at churches and chapels in that area.

1985 - 70 years old

1995 - 80 years old

2004 - 89 years old - passed away 24th August. Left 2 million to various charities. 
"Friends say Rev Williams, who died aged 89, was a quiet man and people would never have guessed he was wealthy."

And from here https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2004/10-september/gazette/deaths

"WILLIAMS. — On 24 August, the Revd David Albert Williams: RAF Chaplain (1949-58); Assistant Master of King’s Rise School, Birmingham (1958-59); House Master of Bourne School, Kuala Lumpur (1959-61); Assistant Master of City of Coventry Boarding School, Cleobury Mortimer (1961-80); aged 89."

2006 An article appeared in the BBC News - Wales. The Frugal Minister left £2m to good causes. Monday, 23 October 2006 

'Frugal' minister left £2m legacy
Rev Albert Williams
The Rev Albert Williams served in the RAF after World War II
Hospitals, churches and charities are benefiting from a £2m legacy left by a west Wales minister who led a "simple and frugal" life.Before his death in 2004, Reverend Albert Williams, of Llanwrda, Carmarthenshire, left instructions in his will to help good causes.

Friends say Rev Williams, who died aged 89, was a quiet man and people would never have guessed he was wealthy.
Nearly £700,000 is going to hospitals in Swansea alone.
The city's NHS trust said it was "delighted and extremely grateful" for the "generous" donation.

Around £400,000 will be spent on new cancer services and £240,000 on cardiac equipment.
Money has also been pledged to research treatment and relief of heart disease, cancer, blindness, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's Disease.
Rev Albert Williams
 I don't think anyone would have guessed - he lived a simple and frugal life in the village 
Reverend Adrian Legg
Causes outside of health to benefit include a park for youngsters in Llanwrda and the village hall.

Rev Williams was born there before moving away to become a curate, first in Bangor and then Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth.
He joined the Royal Air Force as a padre after World War II and then became a history teacher at the City of Coventry School in the Midlands.

He retired and returned to Llanwrda around 1980 and preached at churches and chapels in that area.
Rev Williams left instructions in his will that the money was to go to good causes.

A spokesman for his estate said the vast majority of the money would be spent in Wales and that he hoped it would encourage others to donate to local causes.

Reverend Adrian Legg, the vicar of Llanwrda, said: "I think everybody was very surprised that he left that amount of money to charity.
Llanwrda Church
Rev Williams retired to his home village of Llanwrda
"I don't think anyone would have guessed - he lived a simple and frugal life in the village.

"When he was fitter - when I first arrived here - he would help out, especially if I was away, and he would cover in other local churches from time to time when they were without vicars.
"Locally we have benefited greatly from what he left - some has come to my own church and also to another church - Chapel Dewi - for restoration and re-carpeting."
The Alzheimer's Research Trust said Rev Williams' "generous gift" of £50,000 helped launch a research programme into whether oily fish could help slow the progression of Alzheimer's and lead to new treatments. 


Further information on the results of his donations to good causes from Wales on Line - 

Legacy buys sight-saving kit

MONEY donated to Swansea hospitals from the estate of a West Wales minister has been used to buy a key piece of equipment to help save the sight of premature babies.

MONEY donated to Swansea hospitals from the estate of a West Wales minister has been used to buy a key piece of equipment to help save the sight of premature babies.
The £50,000 Retcam will help eye specialists at Singleton Hospital identify babies with a condition called retinopathy of prematurity - the same disease that caused singer Stevie Wonder to go blind.
Such early diagnosis will enable treatment to start quickly, saving the babies from a lifetime of blindness.
It is one of the latest purchases made from donations of more than £700,000 from the estate of the Reverend David Albert Williams, from Llanwrda in Carmarthenshire, who died in 2004.
In October Swansea NHS Trust announced £224,000 was being spent on cardiac equipment, and around £450,000 on cancer services. A further £50,000 has also been spent on pain relief equipment, and more than £50,000 on other ophthalmology equipment, in addition to the Retcam.
David Laws, a consultant ophthalmologist at Singleton Hospital, said, "I would like to thank the Rev Williams for thinking of ophthalmology in his will and allowing us to buy an important piece of equipment.
"Premature babies are at risk of a blinding eye disease called retinopathy of prematurity. This is the disease that caused singer Stevie Wonder to lose his sight.
"About 15 years ago a treatment became available which is very effective at preventing the disease. Unfortunately, we are not very accurate at predicting which babies will get it, so have to screen many children to pick up the few with blinding disease.
"The Retcam enables us to view the inside of the eye with a video camera, allowing a more accurate diagnosis."
Fund-raisers at Clase Community Centre, in Swansea, have also contributed £5,000 towards the equipment.
Discussions are under way to consider the best way to spend the £450,000 set aside for cancer services.

And from BBC Wales http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_west/6918004.stm

3D ultrasound boon for heart ops
Image of a heart from the 3D ultrasound probe
The ultrasound probe can be placed on a patient's beating heart
Surgeons in Swansea have taken delivery of an ultrasound probe that produces three-dimensional images of the heart.The probe, one of few of its kind in the UK, was bought by Morriston Hospital using donated money.
It can be used in open-heart surgery to enable surgeons to see real-time 3D images of a patient's beating heart on a computer screen.

They describe the 3D images from the £60,000 machine as "like being able to take a walk inside a patient's heart".
Consultant cardiologist Adrian Ionescu said: "The quality of the pictures is unparalleled, as there is no intervening structure between the probe and the heart.

"This is not experimental, but it's certainly very, very new and hardly done in the UK."
He said the probe would make a "significant difference" for some patients with complex heart problems.

Consultant cardiologist Adrian Ionescu
 Being able to look at the heart while it's still beating, with 3D, can allow a significant advantage 
Adrian Ionescu, cardiologist
He said: "Say you have a patient with a complex problem such as a rupture of the heart wall following an extensive heart attack. When this complication isn't fatal it requires immediate surgery.

"The surgery is very difficult because often these ruptures occur in an area of the heart which the surgeon has great difficulty to see, even on a non-beating open heart.
"Being able to look at the heart while it's still beating, with 3D, can allow a significant advantage in planning the operation and making it a success.

Early data
"Basically, in this type of situation, you have one go and if you don't get it right, the likelihood of having a live patient at the end is very low.

"This is one of the rare but nevertheless very significant situations where this technology is likely to make a major impact."

The hospital's cardiac unit has so far used the probe with around 15 patients, and is currently assessing early data with a view to publishing their findings later this year.
The probe and equipment were bought with money donated to Swansea NHS Trust by the late Reverend David Albert Williams, of Llanwrda.


Monday, January 9, 2017

The transition between the school closing in 1982 and the 1985 arrival of British Youth for Christ,

We have received a very interesting email from Stewart Wagstaff, of Ludlow, regarding the transition of the school in 1982,with possibly some detail yet to come.

The chance receipt yesterday of the two attached photos led me to look at this site for
The first time.  I do not recognise the people standing near to the cottage where George Parker must subsequently have lived, nor do I recognise the location of the bridge - indeed it may have nothing to do with the school. So, why am I writing?

There is for me and a few other ex employees of Coventry LEA, a significant gap in what went on between the school closing in Summer 1982 and the arrival in 1985 of British Youth for Christ, the foundation organisation  for what is now the Pioneer Centre.

In the early 80's, the Labour controlled City Council were finding it difficult to make a political case for the continued funding of a school some 40 miles distant and which had served its primary purpose - the education of boys somehow displaced from their families or for whom in other ways were considered a match for the unique educational environment.

At or around the the same time, the Government were putting large sums of money at the disposal of Local Authorities to develop the Youth Training Scheme (YTS), and Coventry, already ahead with their "Top Shop" project in the City, saw the closure of the school as an opportunity to retain the site and to develop a residential element within their YTS programme.

To cut a much longer story short, I was appointed as Head of Centre for what became The City of Coventry Centre. Over what would have been the school Summer holiday period of 1982, existing staff - bar one less willing to move off site - departed and made way for a new regime. We were given one year to demonstrate the viability of the project and if successful we would be granted a further three years of development.

The YTS trainees arrived on a Monday and departed on a Friday. They were all 16 to 18 year olds of both sexes so the programme had not only to develop social and life skills in a residential setting but also provide practical and outdoor activities designed to engender confidence, teamwork and self-sufficiency. Briefly, all the staff bar myself as an existing employee, were newly recruited and given a one year contract. They all had qualification and skills in building, horticulture, catering, outdoor pursuits and group work. An Administrator an part-time Secretary supported the work and the two existing maintenance staff,, Geoff (?) and Tony Booton were retained. Within a tight and full day programme we undertook maintenance of the site, grew food and kept chickens, cooked our own food, enjoyed climbing and camping trips in the area and found time to talk in groups to put the new experiences into a 'back home' perspective.  This was a full-on schedule with no respite for staff at night where the 'lively' nature of adolescents from the city called for tact, firmness and some courage in defusing night time antics!

Great progress was made and the site and facilities developed. Whilst we accommodated the the Trainees in the new building, programmes developed for other fee paying groups were accommodated in the up-graded wooden huts we called 'Longhouses'.  Our work was being appreciated in Coventry and the prospect of more groups attending and providing a fee income was rewarded at the end of the first by a commitment to a further three years. The staff let go their bolt holes and set out to develop the work. For myself, I moved my family from Warwickshire, with my sons going into Lacon Childe's first and third years respectively. Living in what was the Headmaster's cottage was a bonus.All seemed well.

Within three months of making their commitment, the City Council reneged on the project. There was overspending on the YTS scheme and they did not have our confidence  to develop the Centre on  a commercial or otherwise funded basis. Our work came to an end in the August of 1984 with the Centre in much better condition than when we arrived. I was offered a post back in Coventry but declined with as much grace as possible,

The programme now being undertaken by the Pioneer Centre is not dissimilar to the embryonic work of 1982 - 1984.  C'est la vie!

Stewart Wagstaff,    Ludlow

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Dennis Elmer - Passed but not Forgotten.

Today, April 9 2016, we got a request from Dennis's daughter, Kirsti, to join the school Facebook page. It was sad news. Dennis has gone to the senior school in the sky! Photos and tributes were shared and I'll transfer what  I can here, for posterity. Here's Dennis Elmer as he was in 2014 at the school reunion in Cleobury Mortimer.

School Cross Country Team 1958. Dennis Elmer is 3rd from right on the back row.

Another from the Reuinon 2014 - Dennis on the left - Michael Billings on the right. Dennis's wife in the background behind him I think.

Dennis on the left.

Dennis with his daughter Kirsti

Dennis worked at Rolls Royce at some stage and lived down in Western Super Mare. 

Kirsti Louise Elmer Hello everyone sorry to post this on here but i am Dennis Elmer daughter and have some awful news sadly this morning my dad passed away he was very peaceful and surrounded by family. Any memories anyone has of him or pictures please contact me on here or by inbox me many thanks for accepting me to the group xx

Kirsti Louise Elmer
Thank u, he has 5 children 4 girls and a boy 10 grandchildren and one on the way, he was a loving husband to our mum for 25 years and took her away to Tunisia last year as a surprise.
He lived for his football team the sky blues also enjoyed fishing and darts.
He was a very private and stubborn man but very very loving.

Martyn Hawthorn Kirsti thank you for letting us all know he sad news. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. The name is familiar so what years was your Father at the school as I may have some photos in one of my boxes.

David Partridge Dennis would have left in '64

Martyn Hawthorn I was trying to work it out as I think he was in the year after me and I think in Mortimer House. He would be about 68 I think.

David Partridge Mortimer, the year before me which would make him 67 or 68.

Stuart McDonald Sad to read of Dennis's death. I don't believe I knew him as a little before my time. My sympathies to his family.

David Partridge Very sad news. I remember him well from school, we were both in Mortimer House, he was a year older than me. He was rather cool with his quiff so I took it as a great honour when he suggested we swop my sloppy brown jumper for his chelsea boots for a few weeks. That would be about 52 years ago. Best wishes to the family.

Andy Gibson So sorry for your loss.

Stephen Donald Sorry to hear of your loss, Kirsti

Paul Rees Sorry for your loss Kirsti Louise Elmer. My thoughts are with you. x

Hadrian Wall I'm very sorry to hear this, Kristi.

Kirsti Louise Elmer Thank you everyone for your words

Lauri Lindsay So sorry to hear of Dennis's passing

Ken Hammond So sorry to hear of this.

Raymond Bothwell sorry to hear this

David Partridge Very sad news, best wishes to you all.

Keith Ison Thoughts are with you
So sad to hear of this

Mike Simons So sorry to be reading this, my thoughts and prayers are with you.

Trev Teasdel Kirsti - Dennis was at the last reunion at the school a couple of years ago and we had a chat. Very sorry to hear this. I think he was a bit older when i was at the school and in Mortimer. He was one of the good ones. Life is a journey and you go as far as you can - that's all you can do. Be strong Kirsti - your mum too and thanks for letting us know. We like to honour our own - will see if i can find any photos with him on.

Kirsti Louise Elmer Thank u that would be lovely

Trev Teasdel So far I haven't found one of Dennis - I thought there would be one of him at the reunion at least but i think he came after the photos were taken. If anyone remebers one of him and knows where it is on the blog - do post it.

Trev Teasdel Kirsti has posted one of Dennis at the reunion on the other blog - the photo i coujld find and I've found one of him in the Cross country team - will post them on here in second!

Paul Nicholas Williamson Dennis was a very good sportsman, plus the fact we played in the same football team after we left Cleobury along with a few more. The team was Phildown Dynamos later to become Phildown Henley when Dennis was the top goal scorer for them.Very sorry to hear the news.

Kirsti Louise Elmer Thank you for the lovely memories he loved his football

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Paul Rees - New Novel - When we say Goodbye.(A dark romance!)

Former pupil Paul Rees has published a new novel 
Check it out on Amazon where there is a sample chapter, and give him some support.

About the Author

Paul Rees is a single Father to a teenage boy. This is his first novel. Paul has had various jobs in his life, soldier, police officer, Sales Manager, Operations Manager and courier to name but a few. Aged 17, Paul joined the Royal Corps of Transport, a Corps he describes as being 'the best in the British Army'. He was a Staff Car driver and met many Senior Officers and, on two occasions, Her Majesty The Queen. He is a passionate supporter of a group on Facebook called UK VETERANS-ONE VOICE.His website is prees816.wix.com/paul-rees-writer.
Read more here on Amazon.

Radford House 1951

John Kitchener Hi Trevor. I can't get my head around adding things on facebook. I was at Wyre Farm from 1951 to 1954 and I think the photo was around 1952. I was in Radford Dormitory and Mr Musgrove was the master. I am second from the right. the good looking one. My Cousin Peter Storrie was also in the same dormitory but at the other end.
I remember a big lad called Judge who now lives in Leyland Lancashire, and another lad called Franze muller but I have no idea where he is nowerdays. I am retired, 73 years old and live in Thornton Cleveleys Lancashire. I spend a lot of the summer in my static caravan in Brecon South wales.
Nice to hear from you.
Kind Regards
John Kitchener

Roy D Christon  Radford House 1951

Roy D Christon John. glad you put that on. Most of the comments are from guys a lot younger than us. see you soon.

Vince Holliday still waiting to hear from anyone who was at the school at same time as me...i.e. 1945 till 1950.

Mad Carue  I am only a youngster 1950 -52.

Roy D Christon Same years as me But my brother David Christon was there 48/52. RadFord House as well.

Roy D Christon Just found my school reports for 1951/53 teachers were Daddy Hadfield. Mr Ham, Mr Richards, Mr Martin Headmaster.

Mad Carue I remember Daddy Hadfield, Mr Martin, Mr Cosgrove, Lambley and Langley , I was in Radford but can’t remember the Masters for certain, The names Ham and Richards ring a bell but that’s all.

Roy D Christon Daddy Hadfield was housemaster in Radford House the low numbers. Who some boys have a tale to tell!!! I was at the school 1950 /1953 RadFord House R19

Mad Carue Roy, [Who some boys have a tale to tell!!!] I think I know what you are referring to. I remember often a bunch of teachers would arrived back from a boozy night in the village .............

Roy D Christon That's right Daddy Hadfield one end Mr Ham Shower end. Remember the shower queues! ! Would not happen today, especially the inspections.

Pete Anderton old Austin A50

Paul Blundell - 
Does anyone remember the old Austin A50 that Pete Anderton and I bought off one of the dinner ladies for £5, and we refurbished it as a project after our exams in our leaving year 1969. We kept it in one of the garages next to the art room. The farmer let us drive it around his field. Alex Hudson bought it off us when we left the school, I don't know what happened to it after that.

Lauri Lindsay I can see you both going around that field even now Paul. Good times.

Peter Melhuish Yes remember it well, I seem to recall moll holiday also had something to do with it.

Paul Blundell I still miss Pete Anderton, he was my best friend. You probably remember we lost him a long time ago. Next May it will be 40 years since he passed away, that's him in the car.