Former National School, Wenvoe

Former National School, Wenvoe

This building, now the community centre, was the area’s first purpose-built school, opened in 1861.

Before then, local children were educated in various buildings through the charity of the Church or benefactors. Wenvoe’s first recorded school had 14 pupils in 1675 but closed in 1681 after its founder died. Day schools in the following centuries included one in a room above an inn at Twyn-yr-Odyn, recorded in 1845.

The Church authorities funded the new school’s construction. The Jenner family of Wenvoe Castle provided the land. Running costs were partly covered by the family and Church, but parents had to pay in the early years. Farmers paid 3d (thee old pence) per week per child, tradesmen and farm servants 2d per week. There were discounts for siblings attending together. The school taught children aged about five to 15, all in one room.

The National School was one of many such schools built in Britain to improve education of children, including those from poor families. The curriculum was founded on the “national religion”.

One of the early headmasters here was Anthony Garnett, a keen cricketer. He played for St Fagan’s as a competent bowler and batsman. In 1890 he was secretary of a campaign to petition the Barry Dock & Railways Company to provide passenger trains over the recently built line between Barry and Pontypridd via Wenvoe.

The school was enlarged in 1895. Mrs Jenner, already paying £20 a year for running costs, had pledged £5 for the enlargement, on condition that residents raised another £5. The school became a venue for concerts, Conservative Party meetings and other events.

A house for the headmaster was added in 1898 – the house to the left of the school as you look from the street.

During the Second World War, evacuees from London were taught here. After the war, the older children went to secondary schools in Barry. The primary school moved to new premises in the 1970s and the old school became the community centre. A doctor’s surgery was provided here four times per week. The centre is now home to Wenvoe Community Council and hosts many events, including the Wenvoe Village Show.

Sources include the National Library of Wales and Wenvoe Past and Present, published by the Wenvoe History Group in 2000

Postcode: CF5 6AN    View Location Map