Saturday, April 21, 2007
Adelina Patti School Journal
The Adelina Patti School Journal is a beautiful leather-bound book and the exterior is highly ornate with a brass lock. ( Location: Powys archives, Llandrindod Wells.)
Miss Amy White, headteacher, beside Ann's bed on the balcony of Ward 2 -1951
extract from The Adelina Patti school journal
When I started researching this book the only written evidence I knew that existed of the 40 years that Craig-y-nos was a TB sanatorium for children was that in the archives of Powys County archives in Llandrindod Wells was the Adelina Patti school journal compiled by Miss White.
I looked forward to examining this august journal. What would it say about our education? after all so many of us could hardly remember anything about it , except for Miss White and Mrs Thomas wandering around with an armful of books.
So, when I did finally get my hands on the journal, some weeks ago, I opened it with trepidation. Would I find a list of all our misdeeds written there for posterity in her spindly handwriting?
Would her attempts, often futile, to instil some knowledge of scripture, singing and hygiene, the “holy trinity” of her educational system be revealed?
Sadly no. Here are some typical extracts:
First entry: 14 April 1947
Class 1 (infants) 12 on roll
class 11 (girls) 16 on roll
class 111 (boys) 27 on roll
total 55 children
(It is not clear whether this includes all the children in the hospital or only those who were well enough to be taught.
My recollection is that only about half of the children were considered well enough to have lessons. The rest received no education or any kind of therapy at all.)
One entry in the school journal caused a cold shiver to go down my spine:
“ 24 April 1950: most of the little girls in Ward 2 are suffering from influenza and that class
is not taught.”
I had been admitted a few weeks before and I was very seriously ill.
Here are some sample entries from 1947:
June 27 1947. School closed for 1 day as children are to be taken to the seaside for the day.
July 9th 1947 Miss White kept off duty by order of the Medical Superindent due to skin-rash. During this time Infant class not taught as Mrs Thomas had to supervise 25 boys as well as the girls class.
July 15 Miss White returned ro duty.
Sept. 12 School closed for day as children to be taken to seaside.
Sept.22 Mrs Thomas absent as her son is ill. Infant class not taught as Miss White had 25 boys in W 1 and 17 girls in Ward 2.
Sept.23 Mrs Thomas returned to duty.
Oct 8 Miss White went to Swansea to see specialist. Mrs Thomas in charge of school.
Nov.24 Miss White returned to duty.
Dec.19 School closed for Xmas holiday.
It did clear up one fact though. Children did get taken to the seaside on several occasions during the 1940's.
By the way...while in Llandridod Wells I got chatting to a Welsh man over breakfast in my Bed/breakfast guest house who had emigrated but had come back to see his elderly father.
He told me this story over breakfast during a discussion on the long term impact of early childhood hospitalisation on children.
“As a child of six I was placed in total isolation for 8 weeks because of diptheria . My biggest fear during that time was that I would be abandoned and sent to Australia.”
He now lives in Australia.