Thursday, October 25, 2007

Peter Wagstaffe -(1940-45) day trip to the seaside

A day out on Swansea beach for the children of Craig-y-nos.
Peter Wagstaffe is on the right

During the 1940’s there is evidence in the archives that children were taken to the seaside though not one person has come forward who remembers it.

Until today.
Imagine my delight when I open the package of photos from Peter Wagstaffe to find one of him sitting on the beach!

Peter, who went into Craig-y-nos as a six year old, says in his interview with Dr Carole Reeves, of The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine:
“I can remember one instance in that five and a half years when they had a bus and those that couldn't walk they carried on to the bus, and took us down to Swansea beach for the day. I only remember it happening once all the time I was there.

“Our parents got to know about it and they were all down the beach waiting for us.”

Those of us who were in Craig-y-nos in the early 1950s will remember hearing the promise that one day we would be taken to the seaside.

There used to be endless discussions in Ward 2 about this trip to the seaside. Would everyone go, even those of us on blocks ?
Yes, we were assured all children would go. We would be wrapped in blankets and we would lie on the beach. We would be able to run our fingers through the sand , smell the sea air and watch the seagulls as they soared overhead.

It would be a day that we would remember for the rest of our lives.
Except it never happened. In the end summer past into winter and another summer came and went and so the years passed and we stopped talking about the “day at the seaside’ convinced in the end it was “just a story” like Adelina Patti’s ghost standing at the foot of your bed if you were going to die.

Whatever. We never got to the seaside.

Then in the course of research for this book I went through the Powys archives in Llandrindod Wells and came across Miss White’s school diary. Sure enough there are at least two entries:
:”School closed for day. Children taken to seaside.”

Now the interesting point is that Peter was taken to the seaside sometime in the early 1940’s yet the Adelina Patti school did not open until 1947. So it looks as if during the 1940’s this might have been, if not a regular annual event, something that happened from time to time.

So why did it stop?

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