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Rival village schools gave each other a wide berth

By Toby Neal | Features | Published:

We've featured pictures loaned by 81-year-old Maurice Jones showing the Chain School in Maesbury in recent days, but today we're visiting a school elsewhere in the village.

Children at the Marsh School, Maesbury, over 100 years ago.

This is the Congregational Marsh School, perhaps around 1910.

Maurice, from Whitchurch, says the headmaster far left is William Sampson Luke and in front of him wearing a white top with black sleeves is Maurice's mother Alice Jones – Jones was her maiden name as well as her married name.

He says the Congregational Marsh School has been demolished and although he is not certain where it was, he thinks it was somewhere near the Navigation pub in Maesbury.

But we can help out with more information about that thanks to Desmond Roberts, of Oswestry, who has been very interested in Maurice's Maesbury memories.

"I was born in 1935 at 2 Paint Mill Cottages. My mother was Ethel Dorothy Roberts, nee Woodfin, and my father was Lewis Roberts who was born at The White House, Maesbury Marsh," he said.

"There were two schools, one called Maesbury School, and the other called the Maesbury Marsh School. If children from one school passed the other school there would be fighting. So the Maesbury Marsh never passed the Maesbury one, and vice versa."

He says his mother went to the Maesbury School, known as the Chain School, until it closed in 1923.

"I imagine the two schools probably closed together and were joined into the new council school.

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"The Marsh School was at the top of Coed-y-Rae Lane – we always called it Watery Lane in our day. The Congregational Church, the School House and the school were all part of one. When it was pulled down I bought a lot of the bricks. There are two five-bedroomed houses on the site now.

"It was all demolished together. The chapel closed, I would have said, in the 1970s or early 1980s.

"When I was at the new council school at Maesbury we used to have to walk down to the former Marsh School, as it still had an annexe at the back where we used to go for our old school dinners, when school dinners were supplied by the State, as there were no canteens in our school.

"My grandmother, Edith Woodfin, was caretaker of St John's Church."

In a postscript to the above, we've put Mr Roberts and Mr Jones in touch with each other, and they have had a long chat about their mutual memories of Maesbury of yesteryear.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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