St Chad's visit to North Wales
The video was shot on the first of our visits to the centre in Llandudno with the arrangements made for it showing the esteem St. Chad’s was held by the organisation used to book the hotel. The dates I needed for the trip were dictated by the school calendar and by the availability of staff to accompany the trip. When I came to make the booking I was told that the dates had been taken already by a public school. However, I was asked to call back. This I did and was told that the dates that I had requested were available after all. It later transpired that the organisation had cancelled the prior booking so that St. Chad’s could use the hotel on the dates they wanted.
Once again we borrowed Torrels School bus to augment the travel there and yet again the Head, George Fry, came with us, as did Mrs. Whitbread who makes a very appearance in the video. We made the obligatory visits to the industries of the area. Of note was a trip to a slate quarry. Here we learnt of the dangerous gas that puffs out of slate when it is split into tiles (an early example of fracking ?) and samples of crystals of the ‘fools’ gold’ (iron pyrites) were avidly collected to add to the growing samples of geological specimens back at school. We visited also a woollen mill where traditional samples of cloth were woven to make the goods sold to feed the tourist trade.
More traditional fieldwork was done in Llangollen, Conwy and at the Aber Falls. The latter required quite a long walk to reach and Mr. Fry left me to get on with it as he took the chance to soak up the sun as can be seen in the video.
Regrettably, this visit has faded from my memory and I’m unable to recall too much about it. It’s unfortunate as this was the last one that I made with the kids. The following year a party from the school went again to Llandudno and though I set out the work to be done and arranged the visits Mr. Beynon led the party. However, both Mr. Gray and I had an unexpected involvement at the end. We made a very early start in our cars to collect some of the party so that there was space in the bus for all the luggage. It proved an eventful journey back to Tilbury. Made in torrential rain, I had a car spin out of control along side me on the M1, fortunately just missing us, whilst Mr. Gray had an incident at a roundabout on the A6.
I have to conclude these accounts by saying that I think that the times covered by the four videos were the golden era of the school. The late sixties and the seventies were when the school was a happy place to work with the staff having the time for the pupils, but most important, time for each other. We had a stable staff of very good and capable teachers who got the best out of those in their charge. It saddens me that in a few short years a decade or so later this was lost and the ‘Academy’ was deemed to have failed. I won’t go into the reasons for this but it certainly wasn’t the kids. To my mind, Tilbury kids were the best and I wouldn’t have swapped them for anyone else.